The First Team

The lads line up before the last game of the 2010/11 season, a 3 - 2 win over Stokesley SC on Saturday, 23 April 2011

Back row, left to right, Joe Fairish, Harrison Davies, Michael Dalton, Liam Dunn, Leon Carling, Matty Tymon, John Butler, Gary Hoggeth, James Oates, Scott Richards, Wayne Henderson, Adam McGuinness

Front row, left to right, Glen McCartney (Assistant Manager), Steve Jones, Carl Beasley, Keith Graydon, Joe Walton, Gary Shields


Competition Date Home     Away
Pre-season friendly 17 July 2010 North Shields FC 1 2 Sunderland RCA FC
Pre-season friendly 24 July 2010 Team Northumbria FC 2 0 Sunderland RCA FC
Pre-season friendly 28 July 2010 Crook Town FC 2 1 Sunderland RCA FC
Bob Gurney Trophy 31 July 2010 Sunderland RCA FC 4 0 Silksworth FC
Northern League 1 7 August 2010 Newcastle Benfield FC 5 0 Sunderland RCA FC
Northern League 1 10 August 2010 Sunderland RCA FC 1 2 Ryton FC
FA Cup 14 August 2010 Shildon AFC 4 3 Sunderland RCA FC
Northern League 1 17 August 2010 Jarrow Roofing BCA FC 1 0 Sunderland RCA FC
Northern League 1 21 August 2010 Sunderland RCA FC 1 1 Consett FC
Northern League 1 24 August 2010 Sunderland RCA FC 0 3 Bishop Auckland FC
Northern League 1 27 August 2010 Sunderland RCA FC 1 2 Tow Law Town AFC
FA Vase 4 September 2010 Selby Town FC 3 2 Sunderland RCA FC
Northern League 1 8 September 2010 Shildon AFC 3 1 Sunderland RCA FC
Northern League 1 11 September 2010 Billingham Synthonia FC 2 2 Sunderland RCA FC
Northern League 1 18 September 2010 Sunderland RCA FC 0 5 Dunston UTS FC
Durham County Challenge Cup 21 September 2010 Sunderland RCA FC 1 0 Coxhoe Athletic
Northern League 1 25 September 2010 Sunderland RCA FC 7 0 Esh Winning FC
Northern League 1 28 September 2010 Billingham Town FC 0 1 Sunderland RCA FC
Northern League 1 5 October 2010 Whitley Bay FC 2 0 Sunderland RCA FC
Northern League 1 9 October 2010 Sunderland RCA FC 1 1 West Allotment Celtic FC
Northern League 1 12 October 2010 Ashington FC 1 2 Sunderland RCA FC
Northern League 1 16 October 2010 Sunderland RCA FC 2 0 Bedlington Terriers FC
Durham County Challenge Cup 19 October 2010 Sunderland RCA FC 6 0 Ryton FC
Northern League 1 23 October 2010 Norton + Stockton Ancients FC 1 0 Sunderland RCA FC
Northern League 1 30 October 2010 Sunderland RCA FC 3 2 West Auckland Town FC
Northern League 1 6 November 2010 Spennymoor Town FC 1 1 Sunderland RCA FC
Durham County Challenge Cup 9 November 2010 Sunderland RCA FC 2 1 Chester-le-Street FC
Northern League 1 13 November 2010 Sunderland RCA FC 3 0 Penrith FC
League Cup 16 November 2010 Birtley Town FC 3 4 Sunderland RCA FC
Allan Thompson Memorial Cup 3 January 2011 Sunderland RCA FC 4 3 Ryhope CW FC
Northern League 1 8 January 2011 Sunderland RCA FC 1 2 South Shields FC
Durham County Challenge Cup 12 January 2011 Gateshead FC 5 4 Sunderland RCA FC
Northern League 1 15 January 2011 Stokesley Sports Club FC 1 1 Sunderland RCA FC
Northern League 1 18 January 2011 Sunderland RCA FC 4 1 Jarrow Roofing BCA FC
Northern League 1 22 January 2011 Sunderland RCA FC 1 2 Shildon AFC
Northern League 1 25 January 2011 Dunston UTS FC 2 3 Sunderland RCA FC
League Cup 1 February 2011 South Shields FC 1 2 Sunderland RCA FC
Northern League 1 5 February 2011 Sunderland RCA FC 4 3 Billingham Town FC
Northern League 1 7 February 2011 Sunderland RCA FC 0 2 Whitley Bay FC
Northern League 1 12 February 2011 South Shields FC 3 2 Sunderland RCA FC
Northern League 1 15 February 2011 Sunderland RCA FC 1 4 Newcastle Benfield FC
Northern League 1 22 February 2011 Ryton FC 0 4 Sunderland RCA FC
Northern League 1 26 February 2011 Tow Law Town AFC 3 4 Sunderland RCA FC
Northern League 1 1 March 2011 Sunderland RCA FC 2 0 Billingham Synthonia FC
Northern League 1 5 March 2011 West Allotment Celtic FC 2 0 Sunderland RCA FC
Northern League 1 9 March 2011 Consett FC 3 0 Sunderland RCA FC
Northern League 1 12 March 2011 Bedlington Terriers FC 3 3 Sunderland RCA FC
Northern League 1 15 March 2011 Bishop Auckland FC 3 2 Sunderland RCA FC
Northern League 1 19 March 2011 Sunderland RCA FC 1 3 Norton + Stockton Ancients FC
League Cup 22 March 2011 Sunderland RCA FC 4 1 Stokesley Sports Club FC
Northern League 1 25 March 2011 West Auckland Town FC 4 1 Sunderland RCA FC
Northern League 1 29 March 2011 Esh Winning FC 0 1 Sunderland RCA FC
Northern League 1 2 April 2011 Sunderland RCA FC 0 2 Spennymoor Town FC
Northern League 1 9 April 2011 Penrith FC 1 0 Sunderland RCA FC
League Cup 11 April 2011 Sunderland RCA FC 1 3 Spennymoor Town FC
Northern League 1 16 April 2011 Sunderland RCA FC 3 2 Ashington FC
Northern League 1 23 April 2011 Sunderland RCA FC 3 2 Stokesley Sports Club FC
Testimonial 25 May 2011 Silksworth FC 2 1 Sunderland RCA FC

Northern League Division 1 Table

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Spennymoor Town (C) 42 33 4 5 116 31 85 103
2 Consett 42 29 6 7 103 51 52 93
3 Whitley Bay 42 28 9 5 73 32 41 93
4 Newcastle Benfield 42 27 6 9 94 53 41 87
5 Shildon 42 26 5 11 114 46 68 83
6 West Auckland Town 42 26 4 12 96 62 34 82
7 Dunston UTS 42 24 8 10 84 49 35 80
8 Ashington 42 21 5 16 83 65 18 68
9 Bedlington Terriers 42 20 7 15 94 62 32 67
10 Norton + Stockton Ancients 42 19 9 14 66 45 21 66
11 South Shields 42 17 7 18 61 66 -5 58
12 Billingham Synthonia 42 16 9 17 63 65 -2 57
13 Sunderland RCA 42 15 6 21 67 80 -13 51
14 Bishop Auckland 42 15 6 21 75 93 -18 51
15 Billingham Town 42 13 7 22 58 88 -30 46
16 Stokesley 42 12 9 21 61 85 -24 45
17 Penrith * 42 12 10 20 65 76 -11 43
18 Tow Law Town 42 12 7 23 49 77 -28 43
19 Jarrow Roofing 42 10 9 23 50 98 -48 39
20 West Allotment Celtic (R) 42 9 5 28 51 82 -31 32
21 Esh Winning (R) 42 4 4 34 40 121 -81 16
22 Ryton (R) 42 2 2 38 34 170 -136 8

* Three points deducted



Newcastle Benfield 5 Sunderland RCA 0

Saturday, 7 August 2010

skilltrainingltd Northern League Division 1

Click here for a slideshow of photos from the match.

RCA started their Northern League Division 1 campaign at Newcastle Benfield with a largely new team - only four of the starting 11 had figured in RCA's promotion winning side last season - and a tough ask against 2009-10 Division 1 fifth-placed finishers Newcastle Benfield.

RCA made a bright start, with new signing Jim Farrell having two early chances. Another new signing, the lively and combative Ritchie Hodgson was booked on 20 minutes.

The RCA defence was bypassed for Guy Bates to run through the middle and coolly slot past the exposed RCA keeper, Craig Shields.

RCA heads did not fall because of this set back and a Hodgson drive was parried by the Benfield keeper on 38 minutes.

RCA went in at half time a goal down. It has been a good half, but there had been ominous signs of just how sharp Benfield were up front; although RCA had edged chances, with Hodgson's drive the pick.

RCA started the second half well, with good pressure and chances created, but on 65 minutes went two down when Colin Paxton found himself unchallenged in the RCA penalty to send a looping header into the corner of the net.

The away side were showing few signs of making headway now and manager Hixon reacted with a double substitution on 72 minutes bringing on Gav Parkin and Matty Hyson for winger Tony Coe and the hard-working Darren Kokes. On 75 minutes Harrison Davies was brought on for Jim Farrell.

Shortly after, Benfield scored their third from John Campbell, who netted again on 85 minutes. Two minutes later Guy Bates got his brace when given enough time and space to rifle a rasping shot into the top corner, giving Craig Shields no chance.

This was a tough welcome back to the Northern League First Division. The balance of play was not reflected in the score line, but RCA know that taking chances and better tightness at the back are going to be the first two points on the training ground.

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Sunderland RCA FC 1 Ryton FC 2

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

skilltrainingltd Northern League Division 1

Click here for a slideshow of photos from the match.

After the 5 - 0 defeat at the weekend it was inevitable that changes would be made for the match with Ryton FC. David Duke replaced Paul Wardle who was working, Mark McLeod started in the centre of midfield and Gavin Parkin up front. Ryton included former RCA front men Mark Davison and Liam McBryde.

A bright opening by RCA forced Ryton to defend and in the third minute a cross from Coe found Hodgson at the far post, but his shot was deflected for a corner by Dixon.

Having withstood the early pressure Ryton struck back and a shot from McBryde went narrowly over the bar. The game was flowing from end to end with both teams committed to attacking football.

In the 14th minute good interplay between Parkin and Hodgson released Coe into the box, but his low shot was well saved by Starford. Almost immediately Shields was called into action making a terrific save from Innes at the other end and a minute later Smith went close for RCA with a snap shot which flew over the bar. Shields was again called into action, first making a save from Davison and from the rebound Marron fired goalwards, but was denied by Shields outstretched foot.

The deadlock was eventually broken when RCA did not deal with a throw in into the box and McBryde hooked the ball home from an acute angle.

The first 10 minutes of the second half were similar to the last 10 of the first, with neither team creating chances despite some good approach work.

Ryton increased their lead when a freekick from Marron was headed down by Davison into the path of Innes who made no mistake from 20 yards out.

RCA made a double substitution and this seemed to give them a bit of impetus and they were unlucky not to score when Hepplewhite broke into the box, but fired straight at Starford.

Kokes reduced the deficit in the 70th minute with a rasping volley, after a cross from Davies was only half cleared by the Ryton defence.

Within a minute Hepplewhite had another effort saved by Starford. At the other end McBryde fired wide.

RCA were piling men forward in an attempt to get the equaliser and Hodgson must have thought he had done so when he fired past Starford only for the goal to be ruled out for an early infringment. In the 82 minute the same player connected with a Kokes cross, but his header went well over the bar.

A number of half chances were not taken to the relief of the Ryton players at the final whistle.

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Shildon AFC 4 Sunderland RCA FC 3

Saturday, 14 August 2010

FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round

Sunderland RCA made a spirited fightback to push Shildon all the way in this FA Cup tie. At 4 - 1 down RCA rallied and Shildon had to dig deep at the end to secure the victory.

RCA started really brightly taking the game to Shildon who were looking to control the ball at the back, but were being harried by RCA.

In the third minute a shot from Hodgson went narrowly wide after some good work by Smith. Two minutes later a shot from Andrews was pushed over the bar by Shields.

Finch was called into action twice in as many minutes making a great save from Hodgson before blocking a drive from Kokes.

RCA were having the better of the play and ex-Shildon player John Butler was running the midfield. Against the run of play Andrews hit a speculative shot from 35 yards which dipped but went just over the bar. Kokes, latched onto a through ball from Hodgson and looked certain to score, but once again Finch pulled of a great save. This seemed to galvanise Shiildon and they started to pass the ball with more purpose; in the 33rd minute a header from Harwood went just wide of the post

The killer blow came in the 42 minute when Shildon went 1 - 0 up. RCA did not deal with a through ball from Price and Steve Johnson turned and stabbed the ball into the bottom corner of the net.

Within a minute of the start of the second half Shildon were 2 - 0 up when a cross from Garvie was converted by Harwood. The home side were playing really well and the pressure was building on the RCA defence, both Garvie and Brown had good chances to increase the lead, but it wasn't until the hour mark that Shildon made it 3 - 0 when Garvie was alleged to have been brought down in the box and Andrews made no mistake from the penalty spot.

Within a minute RCA had pulled one back when a corner was headed down by Hodgson and Keegan sliced the ball into his own net.
The three goal cushion was restored five minutes later when Brown rose unchallenged to head home an Andrew's corner.

The RCA fightback started when they were awarded a penalty when Coe was alleged to have been brought down in the box on 78 minutes and Hodgson scored from the spot.

Five minutes later Coe once again burst into the box and this time fired low into the net giving Finch no chance. In the last minute Henderson sent a looping header inches over the bar with Finch beaten.

Good Luck to Shildon in the next round against Bridlington Town FC.

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Jarrow Roofing 1 Sunderland RCA 0

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

skilltrainingltd Northern League Division 1

Sunderland RCA manager Neil Hixon gave new signing, goalkeeper Niki Lawson his (returning) début for RCA in a new look formation that saw Ritchie Hodgson operating behind lone striker Darren Kokes.

RCA got off to a dreadful start when Jarrow Roofing scored after just 82 seconds, David Malloy putting the ball past Lawson in an incisive attack. Worse was to follow for the goalkeeper, as a hip injury forced him off after only a few minutes with former Under 18s Graeme Pickering coming on to make his first league appearance of the season.

As the game settled RCA were dominant in possession, spreading the ball from left to right with relative ease as Jarrow Roofing sat back on their early goal advantage. RCA finally made their possession count after 22 minutes when, making use of the overlapping fullback Stuart Brightwell worked a neat interchange with down the left with Hodgson. Hodgson’s deft backheel around the corner freed up space in the Jarrow Roofing penalty area and, with a late run, Chris Smith found himself bearing down on goal with only the keeper to beat. Smith instead chose to square the ball to Tony Coe whose low drive was well defended by Roofing.

RCA were mounting up the corner count in the first half but were creating little from the opportunities. After a foul on Kokes on the edge of the area Brightwell stepped up and floated a free kick towards the top corner only to be denied by a wonderful save from Roofing keeper Gary Hoggeth, who moved across his line and tipped over from underneath the crossbar. RCA created another chance from the resulting corner, Coe finding himself in space in the area but his downward header was pushed away by Hoggeth.

Jarrow Roofing were looking exciting on the break with the game being played so deep in their own half. Kris Hughes, on the left of Roofing’s attack, cut inside at pace on a number of occations but the moves rarely troubled Pickering in the RCA goal.

After the interval the game followed the same course with RCA controlling possession on the edge of Jarrow Roofing’s box without creating any definitive chances. In the early stages of the second half it was Roofing who looked the more likely score. With RCA pushed forward the quick frontmen exposed the RCA defence on a number of occasions without finding a finish.

25 minutes into the second half and RCA finally threatened Hoggeth’s goal. From what must have been RCA’s 18th corner of the match, Hoggeth saved a goal bound header from in the midst of a melay of challenging players at the cost of an injury. After a goalmouth scramble Roofing finally got the ball clear and tried to hit RCA on the counter with Hoggeth still down clutching his leg. RCA won the ball back and planted siege on Roofing’s goal with the hobbling Hoggeth somehow managing to make a smart save to keep things at 1-0.

The ball eventually went out of play and Hoggeth received treatment ultimately deciding to carry on. 5 minutes later, a deep cross from the right found Hodgson who pulled off his marker and found himself in acres of space in the penalty area. Hodgson did everything right, heading the ball down and back across goal, but the bounce put the ball at a nice height for Hoggeth who, in his last involvement, scrambled across his line to push the ball away.

The injured Hoggeth was replaced in goal for Jarrow Roofing while Wayne Henderson came on for Kokes and Scott Richards replaced Smith for RCA. As RCA pressured in the final 10 minutes Jarrow Roofing always looked the more likely to score on the break with Kris Hughes again causing discomfort in the RCA defence. Jarrow Roofing held out the late pressure to rise to second in the table while RCA are still looking for their first points of the season.

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Sunderland RCA FC 1 Consett FC 1

Saturday, 21 August 2010

skilltrainingltd Northern League Division 1

Sunderland RCA entertained Consett today in a very competative match which RCA will feel they deserved to win and Consett will feel lucky that they earned a draw.

There was a cagey start to this game with both teams taking a good hard look at the opposition. Consett were the first to post their intentions when a long ball out of defence by Forster found Dickman in space but his shot was well saved by Pickering.

As both teams opened up there was some good football played in the centre of the park but it wasn't until the 13th minute that RCA had their first shot at goal when Coe was sent clear by Hodgson, but fired wide. Within tminutes the same combination found a way through the Consett defence, but this time Coe fired straight at Poskett.

Pickering was called into action at the other end but showed great composure when smothering a shot from Piecha with two forwards closing in.

The second half saw Fairish replace the injured Richards and he made an immediate impact. His enthusiasm was infectious and seemed to raise the performances of everyone around him.

In the 55th minute Fairish opened the scoring with a wonderful shot from 35 yards which was straight off the training ground, Hodgson running across goal stopped the ball and Fairish did the rest, this was a goal that coach George Herd was full of praise for.

However the lead did not last long as a Consett got back into the game with a well-worked goal. Hewitson pulled the ball back into the path of Piecha who buried the ball, via a deflection, into the bottom of the net.

Both sides had shouts for penalties which on another day might have been given and in the dying minutes a curling Hodgson corner hit the bar with Poskett beaten and the hardworking Fairish might have grabbed a winner, but his shot went over the bar.

Another very entertaining game which was a credit to the Northern League.

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Sunderland RCA FC 0 Bishop Auckland FC 3

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

skilltrainingltd Northern League Division 1

Click here for a slideshow of photos from the match.

RCA were soundly beaten by a well organised Bishop Auckland team who took advantage of some poor defending to go 2-0 up inside the first 15 minutes.

It could have been worse but for some good saves from young Pickering in the RCA goal.

Sunderland RCA welcomed Bishop Auckland to Meadow Park after more than 20 years and it was the visitors who started the better with a cross from Emson being deflected just over the bar. Bishops took the lead inside two minutes when RCA didn't deal with a corner and Simon Ord fired a low shot which took a slight deflection into the corner of the net.

RCA had their first real chance after 10 minutes when Hodgson found Coe on the right and the winger cut inside but fired just wide of Jeffries post.

With 15 minutes gone Bishops went 2-0 up when Wayne Gredziak flicked a high ball to Emson who smashed the ball under Pickering from a tight angle.

RCA were in danger of being swamped and it was only some geat defending by Duke that denied Emson his second. Pickering was forced to save from Barton after he had been put through by Lawson and as the half ended the keeper made an easy save from a Lawson header.

RCA came out with all guns blazing at the start of the second period and a cross from Coe was guided narrowly wide by Hepplewhite.
Fairish replaced Brightwell after 55 minutes and the effect was immediate. A pass from Fairish found Coe and his cross was met by Fairish, but his shot went narrowly wide.

In the 58th minutes a cross from Hodgson took a wicked bounce and only the agility of Jeffries at the near post stop the ball crossing the line.
It was constant pressure from RCA but the final ball was missing and the Bishops defence were performing heroics.

From a quick break Emson slotted to Barton whose low shot was excellently saved by Pickering.

Bishops were using the counter attack to great effect and only a superb save by Pickering denied Bell a goal on his debut.

RCA continued to press throughout the half and their closest chance came on 85 minutes when Hodgson headed against the post and the ball rebounded clear.

In the final minute RCA didn't defend a freekick and as the ball bounced about in the box Richardson was the first to react shooting past Pickering.

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Sunderland RCA FC 1 Tow Law Town 2

Friday, 27 August 2010

skilltrainingltd Northern League Division 1

Sunderland RCA welcomed Tow Law Town to what is believed to be the first Friday night fixture held at Meadow Park. The expected large crowd saw a game full of incident which I am sure the nuetrals and Tow Law fans will have enjoyed if not the RCA fans. On the balance of play RCA can count themselves unlucky not to have got something from the game but woeful defending has again cost them dear in a league where any mistake is punished.

Sunderland RCA went on the attack from the off and within five minutes Wardle headed over the bar from a Coe corner.
A minute later and some stirling defending by Tobin and Davison prevented Kokes from scoring. After 10 minutes a forceful run by Duke took him past three players, but his cross cum shot was defl;ected away for a corner. Once again Wardle rose highest and powered a header inches over the bar.

RCA had the ball in the net on 15 minutes when a cross from Parkin found Coe with acres of space and he blasted the ball into the net only to be adjudged offside.

The Lawyers had withstood the early pressure and posted their first effort on goal from a corner when Robson was allowed a free header which was easily saved by Pickering.

RCA were awarded a freekick on the edge of the box which Coe and McLeod proceeded to mess up giving possession to Thompson who quickly broke before passing to Halliday who fired home ably assisted by a wicked bounce which left Pickering stranded.

RCA responded almost immediately when Coe once again had the ball in the net but had fouled the keeper in getting possesion.
The Lawywer went 2-0 up again from a quick break away Jones mistimed his header and it fell to Parkinson who switched play and Halliday blasted the ball past Pickering.

RCA knew their luck was out in the 40th minute when a flowing move involving Parkin and Duke found McLeod but his shot rebounded off the foot of tha post.

Wardle then headed over and had a shot saved as RCA Piled on the pressure.

In the dying minutes of the half Kokes latched onto a great through ball from McLeod but, with only the keeper to beat, he shot straight at him.

The second half was much the same as the first with RCA pressing but not really creating much and The Lawyers counter attacking to good effect and defending their 2-0 lead admirably.

Neither keeper was troubled until the 75 minute when a Coe cross was met by Parkin and his shot was well saved by Robinson. At the other end Scott had shot which went high and wide and Halliday shot wide from an acute angle.

RCA got a consolation goal in the second minute of stoppage time when Wardle eventually beat Robinson with a low drive.

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Selby Town FC 3 Sunderland RCA FC 2

Saturday, 4 September 2010

FA Vase 1st Preliminary Round

Sunderland RCA were in action in the FA VAse against Selby Town of the North West Counties League. After 20 minutes of the game they found themselves 2-1 down and no Selby player had scored.

(Sorry for the delay in publishing this report but had gremlins in the computer and was not willing to compromise this web site.)

RCA began this FA Vase match with a flourish and almost took the lead in the opening minute when Tate had a shot well saved. RCA took the lead after two minutes when Wardle headed home a Coe corner at the far post unmarked.

In the 11 minute an Eeles cross into the box went into the net off Butler's head for an own goal.

RCA resorted, untypically this season, to the long ball and put Selby under pressure, but they did not create any chances.

Selby started to turn the screw and were rewarded when a Rhoades free kick cross was headed into his own goal by Wardle for his second goal of the game. Unfortunately it was another own goal to put Selby ahead.

A collision between Naisbett and Debnam saw the latter depart with what looked like a serious knee injury. Selby were beginning to get on top towards the end of the first half

The second half saw the game go Selby's way and it was no surprise to see them increased their lead when Wheeler found Shahin after some dreadful defending and he passed the ball to Davis to curl the ball round Naisbett.

Minutes later and Wheeler should have sealed the victory when he missed two opportunities inside a minute. The first chance went just wide when he was through one-on-one with the keeper and the second when Naisbett collected as Wheeler was sent clear. This marked the start of a flurry of substitutions as RCA tried to get something from a game that was fast running away from them. Wilkinson forced Fraser into a good save with his legs minutes after coming on. The same player forced a fantastic reaction save from Fraser two minutes later.

In the 80th minute Joe fairish was dismissed for a second bookable offence although both bookings seemed harsh in a match where there wasn't a bad tackle.

RCA upped the tempo in the final minutes and the pressure paid of in the last minute when an attempted clearance hit Tate on the head and the ball went into the goal. This made for an exciting end to an otherwise poor display from RCA.

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Shildon AFC 3 Sunderland RCA FC 1

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

STL Northern League Division I

Sunderland RCA gave débuts to new signings, Joe Walton and ex-Sunderland AFC player Martin Smith, against Shildon.

This turned out once again to be a pulsating match and it is beyond my comprehension and most of the assembled crowd, how RCA remain without a win this season. Until the 83rd minute this match had a draw written all over it. On this form we should be fighting for a top five spot and not for survival.

Shildon AFC went top of the newly named STL Northern Football League after tonight's 3-1 win. On a night of few clear cut chances RCA can count themselves very unlucky not to have come away with at least a draw.

RCA started well enough with Parkin unlucky not to connect with a cross from Walton after three minutes and Smith combining well with Tate before the latter fired a shot wide. Shildons's first effort fell to Richmond, but his speculative effort went well wide after ten minutes. However three minutes later Shildon took the lead when a 40 yard pass from Johnson found Garvie free on the edge of the box and he made no mistake with a thunderbolt of a shot which gave Naisbett no chance.

RCA's defence looked very shaky against the pace of Garvie, but managed to stop any real efforts on goal. At the other end Smith was causing problems and was unlucky with an attempted overhead kick, but Shildon cleared the danger.

It was end-to-end stuff and the neutrals in the crowd were being thouroughly entertained.

In the 40th minute Naisbett was forced to palm a shot from Johnson away and the RCA defence cleared the ball. In the final minute of the half Sam Garvie went on a mazy run which was abrubtly halted on the edge of the box, but Shildon could not take advantage of the free kick Garvie firing straight at Naisbett.

At the start of the second half both teams were trying to pass the ball on the ground and the game was played predominantly in midfield. With no team posing any real threat both keepers were only called upon to deliver clearances.

In the 65th minute, after a spell of concerted pressure, RCA equalised with probably their first real effort on target in the second half. From 20 yards out Smith fired a low drive which nestled in the bottom corner of the net giving Finch no chance. RCA were unlucky not to add to there score when Parkin crossed for Tate and Keegan was forced to concede a corner. From the resulting kick Wardle headed over.

This was RCA's best spell of the game and they would have taken the lead had it not been for the outstanding close range stop of Finch from McCleod in the 82nd minute. Within a minute Shildon regained the lead when a long ball found Garvie in acres of space and once again he punished the slack marking with a well taken goal.

In the 87th minute Shildon made sure of all three points when Hawkins challenged Naisbett for a high ball and the keeper, under pressure and possibly fouled, lost possession and impeded Hawkins. The referee who had an excellent game had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Garvie completed his hat-trick with a well-taken penalty.

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Billingham Synthonia FC 2 Sunderland RCA FC 2

Saturday, 11 September 2010

STL Northern League Division 1

Click here for a slideshow of photos from the match.

A Micky Coghlan brace was not enough to secure RCA their first win of the season but a draw at Synners ground is not a bad result. We can feel a little agrieved that we lost a two goal lead but then on reflection a draw was probably a fair result.

Billingham Synthonia started the game well and a shot from McPhillips was deflect wide by Gordon. Iley's flag-kick fell to Marron but he shot wide. This should have been a warning to RCA not to allow the big defenders of Synners space in the box.

Synners maintained their early momentum and a 25 yard shot from Jameson flashed wide of the upright. RCA, having weathered the early storm, came forward and Gordon was unlucky with a snap shot from 20 yards out after some good inter play with Coghlan.

With the game becoming bogged down in midfield chances were few and far between. In the 30th minute a piece of inspiration saw a long range effort from Parkin land on top of the net with Porter beaten.

At the other end Billingham were awarded a freekick which was headed into the path of McPhillips who shot over the bar. In the 40th minute RCA han a strong shout for a penalty when Martin Smith hooked the ball goalward and it was turned round the post by the hand of a Marron.

RCA opened the scoring in the 41st minute. when McLeod forund Coghlan in space and he volleyed the ball past Porter from 25 yards out.

Within two minutes RCA were 2 - 0 up as Synners looked all at sea at the back and Coghlan raced onto pass from Smith and sent a cracking shot low into the bottom corner.

The game ebbed and flowed at the start of the second half as RCA went for the goal that would kill of f Synners and Synners for their part tried to get back into the game. McPhillips shot wide for Synners, then Walton headed over the bar.

In the 60th minutes Richard Logan had a great opportunity to finish Synners off, but his driving run and shot was expertly saved by Porter. A succession of corners to RCA emphasised their superiority at this point and only some great defensive work by Marron kept the score at 2-0. Synners seemed to heart from this defensive display and the move of Iley into a more central role caused problems for the RCA defence.

In the 65th minute a corner fell to the unmarked Storr who forced a great save from Hoggeth. RCA came forward again and in the 70th minute a Walton shot on goal saw Porter save. Within a minute Synners had pulled a goal back when a Jameson free-kick close to the right hand corner flag found Smith at the back post and he powered a header home.

RCA started to drop deeper to protect their lead and Synners now looked threatening with every attack.

The second penalty appeal of the game was turned away by the referee when Gordon appeared to handle the ball.

Synners continued to attack and got their reward in the 88th minute when Iley crossed for Marron to shoot from inside the six yard box. His shot cannoned of a number of RCA players before crossing the line for the equaliser.

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Sunderland RCA FC 0 Dunston UTS FC 5

Saturday, 18 September 2010

STL Northern League Division 1

Click here for a slideshow of photos from the match.

Another woeful defensive display led to major mistakes which were punished with great efficiency by a rampant Dunston attack. RCA have to learn that mistakes at this level cost you dearly.

A bright start by both teams saw early chances go begging firstly Armstrong had a header well saved by Hoggeth and in the next attack at the other end Walton played the ball in to Logan and with only the keeper to beat he scuffed his shot wide.

The RCA defence were finding it difficult to cope with Preen's movement and allowed him space to shoot after 15 minutes, luckily Hoggeth was on hand to save. However we did not learn from this and a minute later Preen pounced on a loose ball to fire home. Three minutes later and RCA defence was exposed again when a corner was passed into Preen and he laid the ball back for Young to fire home. It was all Dunston at this stage and Bulford could have made 3-0, but his shot took a deflection for a corner.

RCA seemed to have weathered the storm and a good move between Parkin and Gordon saw the latter shoot narrowly wide with Clark beaten. Then Walton crossed to the far post and with Logan bearing down on the ball Pickering headed the ball narrowly past the post. Logan almost got a goal back when he burst past two defenders to get to a pass from Coghlan, but his effort was well saved by Clark.

A free kick from Coghlan caused panic stations in the Dunston defence, but Smith was unable to capitalise on a mistake from Bell and the ball trickled wide of the post.

Dunston picked up the tempo again and McAndrew, who had terrorised the RCA defence up to this point, went past three defenders before powering in a shot which was brilliantly saved by Hoggeth.

With the half coming to a close a long ball out of defence by Dunston should have been easily dealt with by Gordon; unfortunately his intended back pass was picked up by McAndrew and he finished with aplomb.

There was no time even to kick off before the half time whistle went.

To their credit RCA came out in the second half to attack, but the Dunston defence were in no mood to give anything away, with Cattanach in outstanding form. In the 55th minute Logan, who had worked tirelessly up front for RCA had a shot well saved by Clark when he looked odds on to score. The keeper was then called upon to tip a shot from Davies over the bar. On the counter Galbraith forced a fine save from Hoggeth. Then in the 70th minute a cross into the box was met by Beasley who headed the ball into his own net.

Once again in the final minute of the match RCA hit the self-destruct button with Duke being caught in possession by Hepplewhite, who found McAndrew inside the 18 yard box and he made no mistake from 12 yards out.

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Sunderland RCA FC 1 Coxhoe Athletic 0

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Durham Challenge Cup Preliminary Round

Sunderland RCA progressed to the next round of the Durham Challenge Cup with a less than convincing display against a hard working and well organised Coxhoe Athletic team.

A 36th minute strike from Harrison Davies was enough to see off Coxhoe Athletic FC in this Durham Challenge Cup match.

RCA took advantage of the slope in the first half and created chance after chance which they squandered. The players were also guilty of being caught offside to easily. (Six times in the first five minutes).

The goal when it came was a well worked individual one. Davies cut in from the left wing and once inside the box brought the ball onto his right foot and curled it past Orton in the Coxhoe goal.

Just before half time Orton was called upon to tip over the bar from Parkin.

The second half was a replica of the first half, but with no goals, although Davies was guilty of hitting the post when it looked easier to score.

Late in the game Coxhoe did trouble Hoggeth, but he handled the shot well.

In the end it looked comfortable, but the scoreline does not reflect this.

Coxhoe worked really hard throughout the team for the whole of the 90 minutes and will probably say that the hard work deserved at least extra time.

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Sunderland RCA FC 7 Esh Winning FC 0

Saturday, 25 September 2010

STL Northern League Division 1

Sunderland RCA secured their first win of the season in emphatic style beating bottom club Esh Winning 7 - 0.

A Martin Smith hat-trick made sure of the three points but there were excellent displays from Coghlan and Logan and the crossed leg chip ball by Harrison Davies to set up the fourth goal for Smith was worth the admission money on its own.

RCA entertained Esh Winning in this bottom of the table clash and although still early in the season it was being billed as a six pointer.

Esh were unlucky not to take the lead in the second minute when a goal mouth scramble saw both Nixon and Ward have shots blocked by Oates.

In the fifth minute Davies crossed to the far post where Richards was on hand to fire in a shot which was blocked by Hogg, minutes later a a shot by Coghlan went narrowly wide.

Esh were awarded a freekick on the edge of the box for a foul by Beasley and although Marron lifted the ball over the wall Hoggeth made the save look easy. From his clearance the ball found Smith wide on the right and his cross come shot beat Pringle, but drifted narrowly wide of the far post with Logan only inches away from getting a touch on the ball.

RCA were starting to dominate possession with both Coghlan and Richards pressing forward at every opportunity. A Coghlan pass found Logan on the edge of the box, but his shot flew over the bar.

A cross-field ball from Beasley found Davies, who in turn fed Smith who flicked the ball up before sending in an overhead kick which shaved the crossbar.

There was no holding Davies and Smith and the two combined again in the 19th minute when Smith was unlucky with a shot on the turn which hit the side netting. Smith made no mistake a minute later when Logan won the ball on the edge of the box, passed to Davies who played the ball in to Smith who turned and fired low into the bottom corner giving Pringle no chance.

RCA went 2-0 up five minutes later when Walton popped up on the left and fired in a shot from the edge of the box which was still rising as it hit the net. Esh were reeling from these quick-fire goals and worse was to follow as Beasley powered in a header from a Davies corner to make it 3-0.

RCA maintained the pressure and when Coghlan found Logan on the right he cut inside and beat two defenders before watching his shot go agonisingly wide of the upright.

Esh made a few forays into RCA territory late in the half and Dobby had a good opportunity to score when he found himself unmarked in the box, but fired wide. RCA responded with a Richards shot which was saved by Pringle and a shot from Walton which was blocked by Wilson.

In the 45th minute came a little bit of magic that will be remembered for a long time by the RCA supporters who witnessed it. Davies receiving a pass from Coghlan, audaciously, used a cross legged chip which cleared the defenders and fell into the path of Smith who in turn volleyed past the helpless Pringle. A glorious goal to end the half on!

Parkin replaced the injured Walton at half time and was in action immediately as he burst into the box after a one two with Logan, but his shot was charged down by Clough. Esh then had their best spell of the game as the pushed men forward in an effort to break down the RCA defence. Nixon had a header which hit the post and Ward following up pounced on the rebound but his effort was cleared off the line by Beasley.

RCA had allowed Esh to over run them in the early part of this second half and a shot from Nixon went narrowly wide after some good build up play between Marron and Ward. McLeod replaced the injured Richards in an effort to stop Ward who was causing a few problems for RCA.

Wilson picked up a loose pass from midfield and charged forward beating three players before unleashing a shot which went narrowly wide.

This seemed to spur RCA back to life or maybe it was the withdrawal of the effective Ward. RCA took the game to Esh having withstood this 10 minute spell.

Davies and Duke were combing well on the left and Jones and Parkin were causing problems on the right.

Two crosses in the space of a minute had the Esh defence scrambling all over the place, but no RCA player could produce an end product.

RCA were steadily increasing the pressure and forcing Esh onto the back foot a long ball from Jones found Smith on the left wing and he passed the ball into the path of Coghlan who shot wide.

Coghlan returned the favour a minute late with a defence splitting pass which found Smith, but his shot was well saved by Pringle. Pringle found Marron with the clearance and he made a good move into the box only to be denied by a superb covering tackle from Beasley.

The running and work rate of Logan was rewarded in the 85th minute when he ran onto a ball from Coghlan before steering it past the advancing Pringle.

A minute later and Coghlan fired over the bar; Esh were completely gone now and RCA were rampant. A cross from Davies found Smith, but he headed over the bar, but within a minute he had scored to record a hat-trick.

Another superb defence splitting pass this time found Parkin and he raced clear to blast the ball past Pringle.

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Billingham Town 0 Sunderland RCA 1

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

STL Northern League Division 1

Sunderland RCA travelled to Billingham Town on the back of Saturdays 7-0 demolition of Esh Winning. Manager Neil Hixon was forced into two changes from that side with Paul Wardle coming in at left back and Gavin Parkin taking a place on the right side of midfield for the unavailable Joe Walton and David Duke.

RCA started promisingly looking confident in possession and it was not long before they created the first opening. A tidy passing move down the right hand side gave Steve Jones the chance to deliver. His cross was blocked by the closing defender but the loose ball was intelligently anticipated by Micky Coghlan. Coghlan took the ball to the byline and floated a delightful cross over the flapping Billingham Town goalkeeper, dropping at the back post and only needing a touch that the onrushing Martin Smith could not provide.

With RCA on top Billingham Town kept on reverting to their only attacking option at their disposal of switching a long, crossfield ball that were time and again easily read by James Oates and Carl Beasley in the RCA defence.

Richie Logan was causing Billingham Town continual problems. His strong running was exposing the fragilities in the Billingham Town defence and on the half hour mark he should have opened the scoring with a chance all of his own making. Logan ran onto a seemingly innocuous ball into the channel and through either skill or just shear determination his first touch took him inside his marker who was now afraid to make a challenge. Logan ran through on goal with Smith screaming for the square ball to tap into the empty net. Logan choose to go alone and, using the outside of his foot to bend the ball around the advancing keeper, he fired on goal sending the ball agonisingly wide.

RCA were having the better of possession and creating the better chances but the sides went level at the half.

The second half began as the first ended with Logan providing an efficient attacking outlet and it was his hold up play that led to the opening goal. Attacking on the counter Logan fed the ball into Smith who cleverly beat the first defender and ran onto purposefully to the byline and whipped a ball between goalkeeper and defenders that was turned in by Harrison Davies.

Billingham Town tried to get back into the game but it was RCA who looked more dangerous on the counter with Davies having the beating of his man. RCA should have got a second when Logan and Smith combined well again pulling the ball back to Coghlan but his goalbound effort was fantastically blocked by a Billingham Town defender. Davies again had a chance. Getting round the back of his defender, his powerful shot was palmed straight back to him by the Billingham Town goalkeeper but he cued his second shot wide.

With 10 minutes remain RCA looked comfortable despite Billingham Town attempting to pressure but a chance was always likely to present itself. Oates closed down a long-range effort but the ball span up in the air and over the RCA defence. A Billingham striker reacted first and only a great reaction save by Gary Hoggeth denied him.

RCA held out the remainder of the match comfortable to make it three wins, and clean sheets, in three.

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Whitley Bay 2 Sunderland RCA 0

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

STL Northern League Division 1

Click here for photos from the match, including Gary Hoggeth's penalty save. Acknowledgement: these photos are from the Whitley Bay FC photographer.

A tough test faced a rejuvenated Sunderland RCA as they travelled to Hillheads the home of FA Vase winners Whitley Bay. RCA were without midfield playmaker Micky Coghlan for the trip which saw the return of David Duke for the aforementioned Coghlan as the only change from the side that claimed their first away win of the season against Billingham Town a week previous.

RCA began sharply trying to take the game to their illustrious opponents and it almost yielded immediate success. Some strong running into the channels by Ritchie Logan saw him get to the ball before the Whitley Bay defender and win the corner. Harrison Davies came over from the left flank and whipped in a dangerous inswinger that evaded front post attempts and went through a host of bodies before finding Carl Beasley at the back post who, from 4 yards managed to direct his diving header wide.

It was levelling into an end-to-end contest. Whitley Bay were showing their class on the attack with some clever interchanges around the edge of the RCA box but long range effort from both Lee Kerr and Adam Johnson failed to trouble Gary Hoggeth in the RCA goal.

Martin Smith and Logan were also causing the Whitley Bay defence problems. Smith was finding space around the edge of the area created by Logan’s running and hold up play. Mid-way through the first half Steve Jones knocked a long ball into the channel for Logan to chase. The striker got there before his defender and fed Smith who was sitting in the hole. The Whitley Bay defence, who had interestingly tried to neutralise Smith’s threat by standing off him, invited the forward to run at them. Smith obliged and gracefully beat two men before being haled to the ground on the edge of the 18-yard area.

Smith took interest in the resulting freekick. Sensing a threat Terry Burke in the Whitley Bay goal built a five-man wall as Smith stood menacingly. With his left foot Smith floated the ball over the wall but his effort sailed gently over Burkes crossbar. From the goalkick Burke struck a long ball up field that Beasley was favourite to deal with. The defender slipped at the vital moment, however, and his tame clearance fell to Adam Johnson who ran at the RCA backline and squared a simple ball between defender and goalkeeper that Chow greatfully tucked away.

Whitley Bay increased their lead in the 38 minutes with a wonderful passage of play. After a tidy passing exchange Kerr picked up the ball on the inside left and clipped a delightful cross between defence and goalkeeper that Chow met before the oncoming Hoggeth.

RCA were forced into a first half change on the stroke of half time when Joe Walton came on to replace the injured Duke in the centre of midfield.

After the interval Whitley Bay continued to look dangerous on the attack and only a couple of vital block from James Oates and Beasley in the RCA defence stop them from increasing their lead.

Around the hour mark Whitley Bay received a clear penalty after Chow was brought down in the area. Johnson stepped up to take the spot kick but his cheeky chipped effort was read by Hoggath who confidently palmed the ball away.

As the second half grew RCA began to pose a threat on the Whitley Bay goal. Joe Fairish replaced Smith added some extra of tenacity to the RCA midfield with Walton moving to partner Logan up top.

In the last 10 minutes RCA began to lay siege on the Whitley Bay goal. RCA won a freekick out on the right and Jones swung in a dangerous ball that Oates met decisively in the air. His header crashed of the underside of the bar and bounced out. Walton, with Burke stranded, connected with the rebound but the bouncing ball was just to high for him to get over and all he could do is direct his header over the bar.

Whitley Bay controlled the final moments to see out the win. But RCA can take heart from their performance against a team that many in this league will find difficult to gain a result.

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Sunderland RCA FC 1 West Allotment Celtic 1

Saturday, 9 October 2010

STL Northern League Division 1

Click here a slideshow of photos from the match.

RCA brought in Micky Coghlan for the injured David Duke (knee ligament damage) and Joe Walton returned after suspension.

The story of the match revolved around the penalties one scored by West Allotment and the other missed by RCA.

The game ended in a draw with RCA equalising in the last minute of normal time through a Martin Smith strike from 12 yards.

West Allotment almost took the lead in the opening 30 seconds off this STL Northern League Division 1 match when Hoggeth could only parry a shot from Hamilton into the path of Walton who in turn fired goalwards, but Beasley was on hand to head away for a corner. In the sixth minute a low drive from Buzzeo was pushed round the post by Hoggeth and he came to claim the resulting corner.

RCA came back at West Allotment and a cross from Logan flashed across the box inches in front of the outstretched leg of Smith.

West Allotment took the lead on 16 minutes after some good work by Walton and Buzzeo the ball was played in to Waite who looked to have lost possession before being fouled by Beasley. The referee signalled a penalty. Walton duly despatched the kick into the roof of the net sending Hoggeth the wrong way.

From the kick off Walton pushing forward crossed into the box and Davies hit the post from 10 yards out. The ball rebounded to Walton who was clearly in an offside position so the subsequent cross and shot into the net by Smith was always going to be ruled out. However it proved that the West Allotment defence could be broken.

With both teams looking to play football and get the ball forward at every opportunity it was turning into a good match to watch from a neutral's point of view. Bannon in the Allotment goal was called into action to save from Coghlan and when Logan was sent clear it took a suberb tackle by Hughes to deny the striker a goal.

In the 40th minute a through ball from Smith found Davies inside the box, but he appeared to be fouled as he went round the keeper and a penalty was awarded. However, Bannon who was having an outstanding game pulled of a great save to deny Coghlan from the spot kick.

An innocuous clash or heads just before half time between Logan and Waite saw the latter taken to hospital with a suspected broken nose.

The second half saw RCA camped out in the West Allotment half for long periods, but unable to penetrate a resolute Allotment defence.

A cross from Walton found Davies free at the far post, but his header flashed narrowly wide of the post with Bannon struggling to get anywhere near it.

A good move between Richards and Beasley almost got just rewards when they set Logan up for a great chance, but Bannon was equal to it.
Minutes later RCA were awarded freekick just outside the area which Davies took and forced a brilliant save from Bannon.

RCA threw caution to the wind pushing Walton and Jones forward in a last ditch attempt to salvage a point and in the 89th minute they were rewarded when a cross from Beasley was not dealt with by the West allotment defence and the loose ball fell to Smith who cut inside before slotting the ball home.

A draw probably was a fair result, but on the second half performance RCA will be disappointed not to have taken all three points.

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Ashington 1 Sunderland RCA 2

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

STL Northern League Division 1

A trip to the Northern League's furthest north ground faced Sunderland RCA as they travelled to Woodhorn Lane, the home of Ashington AFC. RCA manager Neil Hixon was without Scott Richards, Richard Logan and new signing John Ryan, but was able to call on other debutants left back Paul Talbot and Marc Ellison, who came in to partner Micky Coglan in the centre of midfield. With a lack of striking options, central defender Paul Wardle was entrusted with the job of spearheading the RCA attack.

Woodhorn Lane, Ashington’s home since 2008 when they moved from Portland Park to the edge of the town, has a wonderful playing surface that lends itself to tidy, passing football. This suited RCA who began the game looking accomplished in possession. However, RCA’s early attacking moves found themselves breaking down up front with a final ball.

At the opposite end Ashington were less subtle in their approach play. Long balls up top to the target of ex-RCA centre forward Phil Bell. It would be Ashington who would carve the first opening of the match. A long ball out of defence found its way to the Ashington right flank. Alex Houlsby was given time to pick a decent cross into the box and he didn’t fail to deliver. His ball with pace picked out Phil Bell at the back post but the big centre forward headed wide from six yards clattering RCA goalkeeper Gary Hoggeth in the process.

As the first half progressed RCA began to look more threatening in front of the Ashington goal. Wardle as the makeshift centre forward was causing the Ashington defence problems with work rate and unpredictability. 20 minutes in a long ball up to Wardle caused uncertainty in the Ashington defence. Karl Dryden in the Ashington goal, trying to read the play, came out to intercept and clear but a touch from an Ashington defender took the ball away from him and into the path of Harrison Davies. Davies watched the bouncing ball carefully and hooked a special effort over the back peddling Dryden. The ball held in the air over the stranded keeper before dropping onto the crossbar and then kindly to an Ashington defender who was able to clear.

Minutes later, in almost similar fashion, a long ball up towards Bell was headed away by James Oates in the RCA defence. The bouncing ball fell nicely for David Colvin who had drifted infield. Colvin hit an equally spectacular effort that left Hoggeth helpless but struck the crossbar.

Joe Walton had been causing problems for Ashington left back Darren Lough all night and on the 35th minute he found the breakthrough. Walton ran at his man, carrying his team forward, before neatly checking back and laying the ball into Martin Smith. Smith held the ball in front of the square Ashington defence and bided his time before picking the perfect ball through to find the run of Walton who finished confidently.

Five minutes later and Walton should have made it two. A similar move saw Coghlan this time slipping through the winger. His first effort was saved by Dryden but the re-bound fell kindly for Walton, taking the keeper out of commission, but his second attempt was cleared off the line by an Ashington defender.

RCA came out after the interval still on top. Ellison in the centre of the park was having an excellent debut winning every tackle and motivating the team with his tenacity.

RCA were presented with two excellent chances to extend their lead. Firstly, Wardle pressured Dryden, who had come out of his area to deal with a long ball, into a mistake. But, with the goal gapping and more time that he imagined he miscued his finish sending the ball wide. Then, five minutes later, an excellent passing interchange on the edge of the box put Coghlan through on goal but, off balance, he sent his effort into the side netting.

Still behind Ashington began a 20 minute spell of pressure on the RCA goal however, Carl Beasley and Oates looked comfortable in dealing with everything the Ashington attack was throwing at them. An RCA corner would be the source of the Ashington equaliser. Floated in the corner was easily defended landing towards Talbot who pushed up field to collect. His first touch however was poor and presented Ashington with the opportunity to spread the ball wide, then, play a long ball over the top. Steve Jones stepped out to deal with it but misjudged his positioning and got under the flight of the ball. RCA were now exposed at the back and a simple cross into the middle found Phil Bell who headed into the bottom corner.

In the dying embers of the game an Ashington corner was well dealt with by RCA who found themselves with a break on. The ball was played to substitute Gavin Parkin, who had come on only minuets earlier for Smith. Parkin carried the ball the length of the field and found himself with a three on two situations. Opting instead to shoot Parkin picked his spot from 25 yards and found the postage stamp between post and crossbar, emphatically giving RCA the lead and ultimately all three points.

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Sunderland RCA FC 2 Bedlington Terriers FC 0

Saturday, 16 October 2010

STL Northern League Division 1

Click here a slideshow of photos from the match.

Richard Logan replaced Paul Wardle in attack as the only change to the team that took all three points at Ashington. Two ex RCA players, Steven Stewart and Richard Hodgson were in Bedlington's team to face Hicka's team today.

The largest crowd of the season so far watched an eventful and very entertaining match.

RCA showed their intent in the opening minutes of the match when a dangerous cross from Davies was headed away for a corner by Flynn. From the resulting kick the ball fell to Coghlan, who threaded the ball back to Davies and his second cross in as many minutes caused panic in the Bedlington defence and they were pleased to hack the ball clear.

Bedlington responded to the early pressure with a long range effort from Gredziak which went wide of the target.

In the tenth minute Bedlington must have thought they had taken the lead. A cracking shot from Hodgson forced a magnificent save from Hoggeth, the rebound fell to Benjamin inside the six yard area and although the leagues leading scorer hit the target, Hoggeth somehow managed to get a hand on the ball and force it away for a corner. This seemed to spur RCA on and a slick passing move between Ellison, Smith and Davies set the winger up for a shot which he blasted high and wide.

RCA were playing some good one touch football and had Bedlington chasing shadows at times.

In the 16th minute RCA deservedly took the lead when Coghlan opened up the Bedlingtom defence with an inch perfect pass and the ball fell to Davies who made no mistake from 10 yards out volleying the ball off the underside of the bar and into the net.

Bedlington almost made RCA pay for a momentary lapse in concentration when a cross from Philipson was not cleared and the ball found its way to Benjamin who headed over the bar. The response from RCA was immediate, they put together the best passing move of the match involving Ellison, Coghlan, Smith and Davies who put Logan in the clear and it took a tremendous save from Morton to deny the forward.

In the 30th minute Philipson was dismissed for kicking out at Davies after the two had tangled after a clumsy challenge by Philipson. Bedlington were forced to make a substitution with Flynn limping out of the game and being replaced by Morton.

RCA mounted a number of attacks, but could not make the pressure tell and it remained 1-0 at half time.

The second half opened with both keepers being called into action in the opening two minutes. Morton pulled off a brilliant save from a corner by Davies, with the ball heading for the top corner he managed to palm over. At the other end a cross in from Hodgson found Benjamin free at the far post and although he managed to direct the header towards the bottom corner, Hoggeth once again denied him, turning the ball round the post for a corner.

The game was starting to liven up again. Davies, cutting in from the left wing, unleashed a shot which went narrowly wide, whilse a freekick by Elliott scraped the base of the post with Hoggeth scrambling to cover.

In the 63rd minute RCA were awarded a penalty when Logan was fouled by Dixon inside the area. Smith stepped up and sent Morton the wrong way with a well executed spot kick. Three minutes later Smith had a glorious chance to seal the match when he beat Morton to a Davies cross but had to watch as his header went inches wide of the goal.

In the 70th minute Bedlington had a good shout for a penalty, but the referee adjudged that Oates made contact with the ball and awarded a corner.

There was still time for Smith to shave the post once again with a superb driving shot after he had ben set up by the influential Coghlan who by now was running the show in midfield.

As the game pettered out Bedlington offered little in the way of a threat. The introduction of Convery and Shandran did little to improve their attacking power and what they did throw at RCA was ably dealt with by the home defence. All in all a brilliant performance by every member of the RCA team.

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Sunderland RCA 6 Ryton 0

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Durham County Challenge Cup

In a sign that winter was on the horizon Meadow Park was enveloped in bitterly cold conditions for this Durham County Challenge Cup First Round tie with Ryton. Sunderland RCA manager Neil Hixon made a host of changes from the side that had produced such great league form recently. In defence Dave Anderson was a welcome return after a lengthy injury layoff partnering Wayne Henderson at centre half with Adam McGuinness filling in at left back. David Duke and Joe Fairish filled the centre of midfield birth while up front recent signing John Ryan came in for his full debut.

Ryton’s problems have been well documented of late and RCA looked to put their fragile side under pressure from the off. It wouldn’t take long for the breakthrough the ball arriving to Ryan 12-yards out who drilled through a host of bodies past the Ryton keeper to give RCA the lead.

Ryan was able to double his tally moments later seizing on a mistake by the Ryton goalkeeper to convert. Ryan and Richard Logan up front for RCA were causing problems for the Ryton defence with their strong running in behind the back four. A delicately clipped ball by Duke out thought everyone and left Ryan bearing down on goal to complete his hat-trick but his second touch was poor allowing the defender to challenge and then clear.

Ryton crafted their best opportunity after 25 minutes when an excellent passing interchange on the edge of the box gave North the opportunity to finish but RCA keeper Gary Hoggeth was quick to close the angle and beat away North’s blasted effort.

RCA’s third came from a moment of inspiration by Gavin Parkin who, it seams, is coming up with quite a habit of producing these types of goals. Picking the ball up on the right flank Parkin cut inside beating his first man before carrying on infield past his second and third and producing a left footed strike that spectacularly beat the keeper before going in off the post.

Just before the interval Logan made it four. Driving infield from the left Logan shifted the ball past the challenge before delivering a low drive that beat the keeper at his near post.

Feeling the game was already won RCA concentrated in controlling possession in the second half and looked to slowly pick their opponents off. In the 53rd minute Ryan was given the chance to complete his hat-trick which he gratefully took. A precise passing move that has been the signature of RCA’s attacking play over the past few weeks put Ryan through on goal and he slipped the ball confidently past the Ryton keeper.

To their credit Ryton kept on fighting until the final whistle even with the game feeling over as a contest. Yet, no consolation goal was forthcoming and pushing forward gave RCA the opportunity to punish them. Picking the ball up inside his own half McGuinness played a quick interchange before running to the edge of the Ryton area unchallenged and curling a right footed shot into the near corner in the final action of the game.

RCA record a comfortable win and passage to the Second Round where the possibility of a big fixture with Durham City or Gateshead lies in wait.

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Norton + Stockton Ancients FC 1 Sunderland RCA FC 0

Saturday, 23 October 2010

STL Northern League Division 1

Click here a slideshow of photos from the match.

A superbly headed goal by substitute Craig Bishop in the 92 minute was enough to give Norton & Stockton Ancients all three points in this hard fought encounter.

A draw looked on the cards as both keepers performed heroics in making crucial saves to keep the score at 0-0 on 90 minutes. However it was not to be for RCA who were gutted to concede so late in the game.

Sunderland RCA almost took the lead in the opening three minutes of this game when Davies skipped past two defenders before curling a wicked cross into the box where the initial shot from Parkin was saved by Provett and Richards following up had his shot deflected by Huggins for a corner. Five minutes later and a cross from Parkin found Smith on the edge of the box and his pass to the far post found Logan who took too long to shoot and Norton’s defence eas able to clear the deanger.

Norton quickly got into their stride and a long range effort from Jamie Clarke brought the first action of the game for Hoggeth who made a straight forward save. A pass from Huggins found Shaun Clarke running into space and a mistimed tackle from Beasley brought him crashing to the floor earning the RCA defender the first caution of the match. Hoggeth saved the shot from Jamie Clarke. At the other end Logan and Smith combined to set up Coghlan and his effort from 25 yards brought a great save from Provett.

The game flowed from end to end with few major chances until the game came to life in the 40th minute, a mis-placed back pass from Oates was intercepted by Jamie Clarke who progressed inside the 18 yard box before unleasing a terrific shot which Hoggeth somehow managed to get a hand to it, as the ball landed back at the feet of Clarke it looked like a simple tap in from six yards out, but once again the strong hands of Hoggeth managed to parry the ball away for a corner.

RCA broke quickly from the corner, but where caught in possession and a beautiful pass from Huggins found Shaun Clarke inside the RCA box and he blasted his shot goalward. Hoggeth flung himself at the ball and just managed to get enough on it to allow Beasley to clear the rebound of the line.

At the start of the second half Norton pressed RCA deep into their own half with an awesome display of possession football. Hoggeth and the RCA defence were called upon time and time again to put their bodies in the road of a multitude of shots from Norton. Shaun Clarke had a shot saved and the rebound was fired over by Huggins, than Hoggeth pulled off atremendous save from Jamie Clarke before Mulligan fired in a shot which for once beat Hoggeth but hit the post and rebounded to safety. RCA weathered this frantic 20 minutes and started to create openings themselves when Coghlan found himself in space just outside the box but fired over.

As the game wore on more chances were being created. Coghlan had a shot brilliantly saved by Provett when he looked odds on to score and two minutes later Logan was sent clear by Smith, but with only the keeper to beat he fired straight at Provett and the keeper somehow managed to get his body in the way of the shot by Coghlan as he followed up on the rebound.

The game was not without its excitment and who could have envisaged the finale?

With time running out Bishop had a snap shot from 25 yards out which was destined for the top corner when Hoggeth somehow got a gloved hand to it and the ball went for a corner. RCA attacked from the corner and Provett was on hand to make a last ditch save from Smith.
More was to follow when the assistant referee flagged for a goalkick deep into injury the game looked to be over, however the referee overruled him and awarded a corner which was whipped in by Clarke and Bishop headed home to the delight of the home fans.

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Sunderland RCA 3 West Auckland Town 2

Saturday, 30 October 2010

STL Northern League Division 1

Sunderland RCA saw the return of Paul Talbot at left back after last week’s late defeat to Norton & Stockton Ancients replacing David Duke. Gavin Parkin was moved to a more advanced role next to Richard Logan in the RCA attack with Joe Walton coming in on the right side of midfield for Martin Smith who was missing through injury.

West Auckland began with a frantic pace looking for the first goal and it would not take them long to find it. After two minutes of play Gary Hoggeth turned away the first effort from the opening West Auckland corner. The second corner found Chris Renshaw at the near post and his header beat Hoggeth to give West Auckland an early advantage.

The away side were on top looking first to every ball and their aggressiveness showed as RCA struggled to get a foothold in the opening moments of the game. Some stout defending from James Oates and Carl Beasley at the heart of the RCA defence kept West Auckland within reach.

RCA began to find an outlet with balls into the channels and they had a willing runner in Logan. As RCA began to assert a presence in the game Logan began to find more time and space and receiving the ball at feet he was able to turn and run, troubling the West Auckland defence. His best opening came moments later turning the defender to run through on goal, but Mark Bell in the West Auckland goal turn the shot away.

The atmosphere of the game, set by West Auckland’s early aggressiveness, began to get lively as RCA set about their opponents in a similar manner. However, some of the West Auckland playing staff seemed aggrieved by the levels of competitiveness and tempers and petulance looked like they would eventually reach boiling point.

On 32 minutes referee Mr. Stalker awarded RCA a penalty for an awkward challenge on Parkin that was feverishly debated by the West Auckland staff and support. Harrison Davies stepped up to take the spot kick and angled it perfectly into the corner to restore balance to the scoreline.

West Auckland regained the lead deep into first half added time when Mattie Moffat beat two RCA defenders and set up Stuart Banks to slot in to give the away side a 2-1 lead at the half.

The second half began much in the same way as the first half ended. Both teams dedicated, but inevitably unable to remove the scrappy element from their play. It was in this passage of play however that RCA produced their best move of the match. Walton finding space down the right pulled back a perfect cross to Coghlan who brought the ball down on his chest and riffled the volley home.

The second equaliser seemed to hurt West Auckland mentally as frustration became the most significant part of their play. David Duke was introduced, replacing Parkin, to give RCA a more combative element to their play with Coghlan pushing further up field.

RCA began to create the better of the chances and had the majority of the play. A ball squared back to Logan on the edge of the area gave him the best of a number of shooting opportunities, but he failed to find the target.

With around 15 minutes remaining Logan pounced on a mistake in the West Auckland defence and his wild effort flew past Bell and hit the inside of the West Auckland post before seemingly taking an age to cross the line and give RCA the lead.

Disheartened, West Auckland switched to attack to try and find an equaliser, but RCA always looked the more dangerous on the break. Firstly, Duke with a one on one, but his effort could only find the outstretched arms of the keeper.

Scott Richards should have ended all doubt when he was slipped through on goal by Coghlan but as Bell came out to close the angle Richards let the ball run across his body and, with his left foot, attempted to curl a low shot near side which failed to find the target.

West Auckland were reduced to pumping long ball into the box in the final stages that were easily defended by the secure aerial presence of Oates and Beasley. RCA saw out the final few minutes to secure another three points from a hard fought contest.

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Spennymoor Town 1 Sunderland RCA 1

Saturday, 6 November 2010

STL Northern League Division 1

Sunderland RCA travelled to current Northern League champions Spennymoor Town with the intent of carving out a result that would depose the present leader from the top of the table. RCA manager Neil Hixon went into the game with a five man midfield designed to stifle Spennymoor's attacking play and looked to incisively build up attacks with Marc Ellison holding and Scott Richards and Micky Coghlan supporting lone striker Richie Logan.

The RCA managements astute tactics paid dividends from the off. The added man in the centre of the park enabled RCA to work the ball intelligently up field and with five minutes gone their endeavours earned a corner. Harrison Davies went over to send in a left footed inswinging which Joe Walton, getting in front of his marker, met at the near post to give RCA an early lead.

Spennymoor hadn’t got going and RCA looked to capitalise on the home sides indifferent start. When Davies was brought down on the left edge of the box Coghlan placed the ball with only one intention. He whipped the freekick over the wall with pace and dip. With the ball sneaking into the bottom corner only an excellent hand from Spennymoor goalkeeper Craig Turns was able to turn the ball away for a corner.

Coghlan nearly doubled RCA’s lead in spectacular fashion on the quarter hour mark. After some confident passing across the midfield Walton earned some yards down the right flank after some tenacious industry and, despite close attention from Chris Mason, he hooked the ball into the path of Coghlan around 20 yards from goal. The ball bounced invitingly for the midfielder who hit a sweet dipping effort that grazed the top of the Spennymoor bar.

Despite looking out of sorts in a attacking sense Spennymoor where always capable of carving an opportunity. That is exactly what happened when Michael Laws played a precise ball between defender and goalkeeper that was not dealt with by RCA and Michael Rae was left with a simple tap in from two yards. The striker, however, inexplicably failed to make contact with the ball and the away side were let off the hook with reiterated warnings reverberating from the RCA bench.

Leon Ryan had been excellent in the centre of Spennymoor’s defence adding credence to his reputation as the best defender in the league. Ryan had set up an interesting battle with the hard working Logan dealing with RCA’s attacks with an efficiency that kept the frontman’s chance in front of goal down to a minimum. Just before half time Logan’s diligence paid off but the striker was unable to convert his deserved opportunity.

The second half provided the inevitable Spennymoor attacking onslaught as the home side went looking for the equaliser. However, some resolute defending from RCA restricted Spennymoor to speculative efforts on goal.

It would be a moment of quality that would eventually break down the RCA defence. Substitute Steven Richardson worked the ball with Alex Francis to Craig Ruddy and the midfielder's clipped ball fell between defence and goalkeeper for Laws to nod home.

Spennymoor began to assert themselves on RCA with Anthony Peacock and Francis running at the RCA backline. The home side should have taken the lead when Francis fed a clever ball through the RCA defence for the run of Rae but RCA keeper Gary Hoggeth was off his line quickly to make an excellent save.

As Spennymoor continued to pressure RCA the defensive partnership of Carl Beasley and James Oates came to the fore as the duo halted Spennymoor’s attacks with some crucial defensive challenges in and around the area. Beasley would make his biggest impact of the game at his former club with around 15 minutes remaining. Steven Harrison provided the cross for Peacock to hit a first time volley that was goalbound. However, Beasley positioning was intuitive and, with Hoggeth beaten, the defender hacked the ball away off the line.

Despite Spennymoor’s dominance it was RCA who had the best chance to win the match with five minutes remaining. Walton’s cross from the right flank was easy for Turns to deal with but the Spennymoor kepper fumbled the ball then collided with his own defender sending them both to the ground. Richard’s was on hand to turn the ball home but, with close attention from a second defender, he somehow could not get his foot around the ball to send it goalwards and it was eventually squirmed away and cleared.

RCA settled for an excellent point that keeps their encouraging form going and knocked Spennymoor Town off the summit of the Northern League First Division.

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Sunderland RCA 2 Chester-le-Street 1

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Durham County Challenge Cup Second Round

On a cold night at Meadow Park Sunderland RCA entertained Chester-le-Street in the Second Round of the Durham County Challenge Cup. RCA manager Neil Hixon made a number of changes from the side that drew with Spennymoor Town at the weekend with David Duke, Joe Fairish and Gavin Parkin coming into midfield and John Ryan and Martin Smith returning up front.

It was the cold perhaps that produced the uneventful first half that saw both sides evenly matched and goalmouth action held to a minimum. Chester-le-Street did their best to force an opening but their attacking play was easily dealt with by the RCA defence and their frontline was resigned to speculative efforts that rarely looked like troubling Gary Hoggeth in the RCA goal.

The best chance of the first half fell to RCA. Some well-worked possession play down the right flank resulted in Steve Jones pushing forward. His perfect ball, deep to the back post, allowed Ryan to pull off his defender with a simple piece of movement. Six yards out Ryan rose to meet the cross but with the goal at his mercy he headed over.

The second half produced a far more eventful contest. Chester-le-Street were attacking with intent and causing some dangerous moments in and around the RCA penalty area that required some last ditch defending by Carl Beasley and James Oates.

Just before the hour mark RCA brought on Joe Walton for Micky Coghlan with Fairish switching infield. Walton had begun to make an impact. His strong and direct running was committing Chester-le-Street defenders and opening up spaces along the backline. RCA were able to exploit the gaps in the Chester-le-Street defence when Parkin was sent through on goal. One-on-one with the keeper the chance presented itself invitingly for Parkin to open up his body and pick his spot with his right foot. However, he let the ball run across his body giving Kyle Barlow the chance to close the angle and Parkin’s left footed effort went agonisingly wide.

From the resulting goalkick Chester-le-Street were able to slip Gary Shields through on goal and the ex-RCA man made no mistake sliding the ball underneath Hoggeth to give Chester-le-Street the lead.

The goal seemed to wake RCA, and, with the introduction of Chris Smith in the centre of midfield for Fairish, RCA began to pass the ball better looking with every opportunity to feed Walton on the right hand side.

The warning signs were there for Chester-le-Street when on two occasions Walton beat his man to get to the byline only for Barlow first to pull off an excellent save from Martin Smith and then to be helped out by his defence who did just enough to upset Parkin when he looked likely to score. But with 15 minutes remaining a cross from the right found Martin Smith at the back post who hung well in the air to head in off the post despite the gallant efforts from Barlow.

With credit to Chester-le-Street, the set back did not make their heads drop and they continued to look potent in attack. With ten minutes remaining a string of corners led to some desperate and heroic defending in the RCA box and claims for a penalty despite the suggested handball being two yard outside the box.

With five minutes remaining RCA produced a goal fit to win any football match. The excellent Walton tore down the right and dropped a ball in the centre of the goal for Ryan to volley clinically home and set up a Quarter Final tie with Gateshead.

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Sunderland RCA FC 3 Penrith FC 0

Saturday, 13 November 2010

STL Northern League Division 1

Click here for a slideshow of photos from the match.

Click here to view match photos from guest photographer Geoff Watson.

RCA included new signing Lee Owens in the squad for the visit of Penrith, who on their travels this season have won six matches. The first half proved to be a tight affair with Penrith probably just shading it and when RCA missed a penalty in the dying minutes of the half it looked like it might be Penrith's day again.

The transformation in the RCA team for the second half was unbelievable and the final score could have been much more than 3-0.

RCA continued their impressive run with a well earned win against a Penrith team who have won six times on their travels this season.

It was Penrith who set the early pace and Beasley had to be on hand to clear the danger when Robinson threatened in the eigth minute to break into the box. Beasley's clearance found Martin Smith who crossed for Logan, but the forward was denied a shooting opportunity by Mark Jones.

Penrith should have taken the lead when Earl switched the ball to the left wing for Allinson who crossed into the box, but Robertson's effort went well over the bar.

A spell of prssure from RCA saw Logan win a corner and when the cross came into the box Beasley was unlucky to see his shot cleared, however it only went as far as Walton who fired the ball to the far post for Oates, but he could not direct his header on target. Both defences were on top and goal chances were rare.

In the 43rd minute RCA were awarded penalty when Davies was brought down in the box. With the Penrith players protesting in vain to the referee the kick was delayed for a number of minutes and unfortunately Davies' weak kick was easily saved by James Holland, his third penalty save this season.

RCA came out for the second half in very determined mood and Walton started to impress on the right beating Penrith captain Mark Jones on a number of occasions, only to see good crosses into the box wasted by poor finishing.

A speculative effort from Wilson wide on the left wing had Hoggeth at full stretch and he was relieved to see the ball strike the post and fall to the feet of Oates who cleared to Walton. He jinked past Jones once more and although his cross was well defended the ball fell to Coghlan 25 yards out and he fired a low shot into the bottom corner of the net giving Holland no chance.

RCA were in no mood to relinquish this hard fought lead and althogh Penrith responded by firing high balls into the box the defending of the whole back four, but Oates in particular, was immense and they never looked like conceding.

In the 82nd minute substitute and new signing Owens charged down a clearance from Paul and then as the ball ran towards Thornton he closed him down, winning the ball he then skipped past Brown before delivering a delightful cross to the far post where Walton was on hand to volley home.

Inspired by these two goals RCA pushed forward again and again and were rewarded in the 89th minute when, receiving a terrific pass from Coghlan on the right, Walton waltzed past the Penrith defence before squaring the ball to Ryan, who was left with the simplest of tap ins from five yards out.

All in all a very good second half performance which sees us rise to the relative safety of 12th in the league.

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Birtley Town 3 Sunderland RCA 4

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

League Cup Second Round

Sunderland RCA's trip to Birtley Town for the Second Round of the League Cup provided an entertaining night's worth of football for the supporters, but, perhaps not for either manager.

RCA came into the fixture with a squad depleated due to injury, suspension and work commitment. Coming into the side from Saturday’s victory against Penrith was Dave Anderson who started at centre half, Joe Fairish and David Duke returned to midfield with Lee Owens making his first start since returning to the club and Chris Smith replacing Joe Walton, who picked up an injury in the pre-match warm-up.

RCA took a while to settle into the match. The flowing passing game that had been a feature of their recent good results in the league was breaking down against a hard working Birtley side in the centre of the park. Instead, much of the RCA’s possession play was drawn back towards their own goal.

Birtley looked to provide most of the attacking impetus in the first half. They tested the RCA defence with a number of balls over the top that repeatedly found their front line being flagged offside. But, you sensed that eventually the Birtley attack would time a run right.

Birtley’s best chance of the first half came around the half hour mark. Nathan Hepurker found himself with space in the RCA box, but despite being unchallenged, he was only able to shoot over.

RCA’s best moment came when Martin Smith, bending his run to beat the offside trap, ran through on the end of a lifted ball over the Birtley defence. Smith’s first touch was good, setting himself up for an attempt on goal, but Mark Dawson in the Birtley goal came out to close the angle down and Smith’s low effort was saved by the keepers feet.

Birtley broke the deadlock just before half time. A ball over the top exposed the RCA defence that had pushed up field and the runner, finally beating the offside trap, shot across goal. Gary Hoggeth made the save pushing the ball back into the danger area for Andrew McIntosh to fire into the roof of the net giving the scampering Hoggeth and RCA defence no chance.

Birtley again looked to press after the interval and were immediately rewarded. Herpurker was put through on goal and his shot, expertly tucked away in the corner, gave Hoggeth little chance.

Birtley’s second seemed to wake RCA who began attacking with a lot more enterprise. Pushing forward more men into attack RCA began finding gaps in the Birtley defence and a chance for Richie Logan resulted in a RCA corner. Martin Smith swung the corner in towards substitute James Oates at the near post. His flick onto the back post left Dawson stranded. Duke came in behind the defender with the simple task of heading home from three yards, but, he was somehow unable to make the right connection and headed wide.

RCA pulled their first goal back when, with some good feet, Logan passed the first defender and a simple exchange of passes put him through to shoot straight at Dawson. The Birtley keeper was unable to push the ball to safety and Martin Smith jinked passed the player held in attention and placed the ball in the back of the net.

RCA continued to create chances searching for an equalising goal. Carl Beasley must have thought he had levelled things when a deep searching cross from the left hung invitingly at the back post. Beasley rose and headed across goal beating Dawson but the ball came back off the Birtley post.

Birtley were looking dangerous on the counter attack and with RCA committing more men forward they were able to expose the RCA backline but were unable to convert any of the chances.

RCA levelled things with about ten minutes remaining when an attack from the left gave Smith a shooting opportunity. His effort was parried by Dawson, the hard working Birtley goalkeeper, but Duke was quick to follow up and he fired the ball into the empty net.

This cued a frantic end to the game with both sides looking for a winner. RCA were looking the more likely exerting pressure on the Birtley defence. The pressure reaped benefits with almost immediate effect. Beasley, who was in affect playing as a third striker, pulled off a defender in an almost carbon copy of his effort which hit the upright and headed back across goal giving RCA the lead for the first time in the match.

RCA made it 4-2 minutes later with a well worked move. Passing around the Birtley defence down the left flank the ball was pulled back to the edge of the box where Duke, timing his run perfectly, fired high past Dawson in the Birtley goal.

From kick off Birtley orchestrated an attack and with pace and precision they found their way easily through the RCA defence and substitute Martin Roper finished comfortably passed Hoggeth.

For the final moments of the match RCA focused on holding their lead. Birtley tried to create a final chance to take the game to extra time but RCA were able to hold out and progress to the next round, which, on the evidence of their first half performance, they will perhaps consider themselves lucky to do so.

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Sunderland RCA 4 Ryhope CW 3

Monday, 3 January 2011

Allan Thompson Memorial Cup

Click here for a slideshow of photos from the match

After an enforced lay off for both Ryhope clubs due to the seasonal weather contentions over the course of the last month Sunderland RCA opened 2011 with a local derby against Ryhope CW in the Alan Thompson Memorial Cup at Meadow Park.

It was cold when the sides took the field for the early afternoon kick off. After the heavy snowfall the pitch looked in good condition and both sides looked to pass the ball with consistency when building up attacks.

The game took a while to spark into life with both sides understandably struggling for match fitness. RCA’s first opening came as Harrison Davies was slipped inside the full back after a give-and-go. With time to look up Davies drove into the box and picked out a trialist forward who’s fine effort was tipped over the bar by the Ryhope CW goalkeeper. Ryhope CW were equally posing pressure to RCA but for all their endeavour in front of the defence they could not find an opening.

The first goal of the game came on the half hour mark when, with some quick thinking at the dead ball, the freekick was bent low around the wall and into the bottom corner with the Ryhope CW keeper still arranging his wall. Cue a wave of protest from the keeper and his teammates over the lack of a whistle but the referee refused to relent and the goal stood.

RCA had the better of the remaining 15 minutes of the half with Joe Walton terrorising the Ryhope CW left back. Walton’s pace and technique had opened up the Ryhope CW defence on a number of occasions but the RCA frontline failed to convert any of the opportunities.

RCA manager Neil Hixon made eight changes at the half introducing a debutant goalkeeper and John Ryan at the forefront of the RCA attack. Ryan quickly made an impact. Firstly, some good hold up play allowed Davies to make a run in behind the Ryhope CW defence. The ball fed through was perfect but with only the keeper to beat Davies got his effort all wrong, attempting to chip the keeper he sent the ball harmlessly wide. Then, minutes later, a simple piece of movement in the box freed Ryan from his marker and a typical strikers finish doubled RCA’s lead.

Ryan could have bagged a hat-trick in the next five minutes going though on goal twice only to be denied by the keeper. He got his second on 57 minutes with another good finish from inside the box.

From the kick off Ryhope CW hit back. A long range effort from Martin Metcalfe looked to be heading over the bar but a late dip saw the debutant RCA keeper peddling back to excellently tip over for a corner. The spell of Ryhope CW pressure continued and an unnecessary challenge on the edge of the area from the cleared corner gave Ryhope CW a freekick. David Newby stepped up to take it and his effort took a wicked deflection from the jumping wall that sent the ball looping into the air giving the RCA keeper no chance.

The game was now end to end. Davies was again worked into the box but his finish fail to match the excellent build up play. Ryan was also put through on goal and had looked to have secured his hat-trick beating the keeper with a well placed shot. The ball however, clipped the inside of the post and rolled gently across the line for the keeper to pick it up with everyone in the ground, bar those behind the goal, watching and expecting the officials to call it a goal.

Ryhope CW pulled a second back when Davies, failing to track the runner, left Paul Talbot facing a two-on-one situation. The cross into the box was poor but some bad footing meant Leon Carling was unable to deal with it and Metcalfe was able to turn and finish smartly.

Ryan finally completed his hat-trick in the 75 minute. Davies used a clever piece of skill to tempt the defender on the left flank into a tackle. The defender obliged and Davies shifted the ball past him and was brought down for the free kick. The free kick was played into the box for Ryan to get a touch and the ball almost apologetically crawled over the line into the bottom corner.

Ryhope CW continued to battle and pressure the RCA defence. In the 79 minute Chris Trewick picked up their third of the day giving them a lifeline back into the game. RCA however, were able to hold on the remaining 10 minutes of the match to regain the Cup to mark a successful day with the proceeds going to charity.

Sunderland RCA 1 South Shields 2

Saturday, 8 January 2011

STL Northern League Division 1

After eight weeks without any action in the Northern League and seven weeks since their last competitive fixture Sunderland RCA met South Shields for the first league game of 2011. With Richie Logan and Micky Coghlan suspended RCA manager Neil Hixon brought new signing Keith Graydon into the centre of midfield and John Ryan, off the back of his hat-trick against Ryhope CW, into attack in an otherwise familiar looking RCA starting eleven.

South Shields began the game the better of the two sides looking less affected by the winter lay off. Passing the ball well in the centre of the park and looking stronger in possession South Shields pressured the RCA goal in the opening interchanges leaving RCA looking for an attacking outlet on the counter attack.

After Gary Hoggeth in the RCA goal had made a couple of comfortable saves from long range efforts RCA created their first opening to test Jonathan Carmichael in the South Shields goal. Some decent wing play down the right gave Ryan the opportunity to fire on goal. His first attempt was saved by Carmichael who then inexplicably let the ball slip from his grasp. However, at the second attempt Ryan was unable to profit and the South Shields keeper smothered the loose ball.

South Shields opened the scoring after the 20 minute mark. Picking the ball up in the RCA half Christopher Winn ran at the RCA defence who stood off him. Reaching the edge of the area Winn stepped passed two attempted tackles before releasing an unconventional strike which bobbled past Hoggeth and caught the near post before rolling into the back of the net.

South Shields increased their lead 10 minutes later. A simple exchange of passes found Shields captain Lee Paul Scroggins inside the area and his sublime strike left Hoggeth with no chance.

Just before half time South Shields thought they had added a third when Stephen Ramsey placed the ball past Hoggeth. The goal however was quickly ruled out when the referee spotted the linesman’s early flag correctly indicating that Ramsey had been in an offside position. South Shields went in at the half with only a two goal advantage despite the ardent protests from the congregation of Shields supporters behind the goal.

RCA returned for the second half with a renewed impetus. They began to retain the ball better and a string of midfield passing moves was linked up in attack by half time substitute John Toft and Martin Smith who began to influence his presence on the game.

The early introduction of David Duke for Scott Richard helped RCA use Joe Walton and Harrison Davies to greater effect. Walton would be presented with RCA first clear opening of the game. A whipped ball across goal from Smith was met by Walton at the back post his strike beat the scrambling Carmichael but not Duncan O’Brien who hacked the ball away off the line.

RCA began to exploit the flanks Walton provided the outlet this time. Out pacing his marker and getting to the byline Walton looked up and picked the perfect ball across goal with defenders and goalkeeper afraid to make contact. Davies, in space in the six yard box and with the goal at his mercy, had time to pick his spot but his tame effort was straight at O’Brien who again cleared the ball off the line.

RCA perhaps felt this wasn’t going to be their day as opportunities for Toft, Davies and Walton were missed and loose handling from Carmichael in the six yard area was again failed to be taken advantage of.

Comfortable with their lead South Shields had resorted to attacking on the counter in the second half. It was an instinctive breakaway with 10 minutes remaining that led to Shields best opportunity of the half. With men committed Shields exposed the space down the right flank and a floated cross was met powerfully on the edge of the area by Scroggins who would have claimed his second of the match had it not been an excellent tip over from Hoggeth.

RCA finally got the goal their second half pressure deserved when Walton connected with a ball in from Smith with three minutes of the 90 remaining. RCA continued to push but the final chance remained elusive.

Over the balance of play RCA will perhaps feel they deserved a draw however a strong South Shields team punished the home sides slow start.

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Gateshead 5 Sunderland RCA 4

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Durham County Challenge Cup Quarter Final

Sunderland RCA travelled to the Gateshead International Stadium for the Durham County Challenge Cup Quarter Final against a Gateshead Reserves side. RCA manager Neil Hixon had Marc Ellison, Leon Carling and John Ryan missing from the squad but was able to call on Richie Logan, returning from suspension, to partner Martin Smith in attack. David Duke came into midfield for Scott Richards in the only changes from the eleven who started against South Shields at the weekend.

RCA faced a Gateshead side that boosted three recognised first team members, Brian Wake, Johnny Allan and Josh Gillies, as well as goalkeeping coach Chris Porter.

RCA started the brighter of the two sides utilising Joe Walton and Harrison Davies on the flanks. Walton was first to exposes his man, outpacing left back Kieron McDonald, his cross was inch perfect for Davies who had cut in from the left but, unmarked, he directed his header straight at Porter in the Gateshead goal.

Next it was Davies, getting to the byline he hung a left footed ball to the far post for Walton to slide in but his attempt, on the half volley, only found the side netting.

RCA were exploiting the wide areas with the Gateshead full backs looking vulnerable. Walton, in particular, was causing the Gateshead defence problem switching between getting to the byline and crossing deep to the far post.

After 10 minutes of play Gateshead created their first opportunity. A long, hopeful ball over the top interested Wake who set off in a foot race with James Oates. The Gateshead striker looked second favourite for the ball but through a mixture of persistence, strength and pace he came out on top. With Oates down Wake cut into the box and seemed to have time to finish with no defenders around him. However, the moment of indecision gave the RCA defence time to get back into position and combined with Gary Hoggeth in the RCA goal they were able to clear.

The RCA midfield were picking tidy passes around Gateshead. Keeping the ball on the floor and passing from the back Keith Graydon was lying deep in midfield offering an outlet to the defence with Duke playing in an advanced role augmenting the attack. With the two midfield men linking up well RCA were able to supply Smith and Logan with the ball at their feet. Slipping in Logan inside the penalty area the striker cleverly stepped away from the Gateshead defender who hung out a leg. Logan went down and the cries from the stands said clear penalty however the referee who was in a good position yards away said no to the dismay of Logan and the RCA support.

Again passing around Gateshead, RCA made inroads through the centre of the pitch. With Duke and Graydon exchanging passes in front of Gateshead’s two banks of four Logan showed for the ball. A careful triangle of passes between him, Graydon and Smith found the latter in behind the Gateshead defence but his goalward shot was blocked.

In an extended spell of possession RCA were committing men forward. Penned into their area Gateshead were playing with one attacking outlet in Wake. Pushing both full backs forward RCA were firing dangerous balls into the box that were being well defended by Gateshead. Advancing down the left with the ball at his feet Paul Talbot switched play across field to Steve Jones. With time and space the fullback took a touch to compose himself then fired a 35-yard effort towards the top corner that had Porter beaten. The ball came back off the inside of the upright and with the Gateshead keeper stranded Smith slid in to try and convert into the empty net. The ball, however, got caught under his feet and by the time he was able dig it out the chance was gone and Gateshead were eventually able to clear.

Finally obtaining some tenure over the ball Gateshead looked confident in possession and gave the RCA defence something to think about with Gillies in particular looking dangerous. After 27 minutes Andy Brown slipped in Wake behind the RCA defence. He was able to turn his marker and closing in on goal with Hoggeth advancing Wake produced a sublime finish from an acute angle, chipping the ball over the RCA keeper to give Gateshead the lead.

RCA responded immediately. Davies, outstripping Gateshead right back Luke Gilbert, fired a low cross across goal and, with defender and goalkeeper afraid to make contact, Logan was left with a tap in. Again from the restart RCA pressed. Davies and Talbot combining down the left, Talbot’s deep cross was met by Walton at the back post who’s header across goal provided Logan with the simplest of finishes.

RCA continued to control much of the first half play. Just before the interval Gateshead gave RCA a reminder of their attacking threat. After some good possession football Brown found Gilles on the left. Gilles ran at Jones beating the RCA right back before stepping away from a second challenge and passing the ball passed Hoggeth. Gilles cross-come-shot was goalbound but Carl Beasley was positioned well and cleared.

Micky Coghlan came on to replace Keith Graydon in the centre of the RCA midfield at the interval. RCA began the second half with the same impetus, attacking down the flanks and pressuring the Gateshead goal. Just before the hour mark Davies cross was charged down resulting in an RCA corner. Davies went over to take the corner firing low to the near post. A flick at the front post found its way through the bodies and Beasley slid in to increase RCA’s lead.

RCA replace Smith with John Toft and from the restart Gateshead moved on the attack. Feeding the ball to Gilles who once again instigated problems in the RCA defence the winger drove from a seemingly untroubling position, outpacing his man and stuck the ball with pace, nearside, into the top corner passed Hoggeth.

RCA to kick off. Holding onto possession RCA produced an effective passing move down the right flank with Walton feeding the ball inside to Logan. With the ball at his feet Logan shrugged off a challenge from the player in attendance and unleashed a 15 yard drive that passed Porter before he had attempted to make the save.

As the second half progressed Gateshead, with the impressive Wake as their spearhead, began to have more influence on proceedings. They could, and perhaps should, have got back into the game when Wake was found six yards from goal but headed over and then moments later Hoggeth made a crucial save at the feet of Jonny Evans after a Rob Briggs knock down.

RCA continued to create chances Davies put the ball in the back of the net but was correctly flagged offside and in a similar move Davies was again put through, this time beating the offside trap, and stuck straight at Porter. The Gateshead keeper made the save pushing the ball into the air and leaving his goal empty. Davies, stretching, struck the ball on the volley but it was a difficult chance and the winger put it wide.

The narrative subplot was the tale of two forwards, Logan for RCA and Wake for Gateshead. Logan, with a hat-trick already to his name, was picking the ball up deep and frightening the Gateshead defence running with speed and skill. At the opposite end Wake was causing RCA just as many problems.

An interchange between Logan and Davies down the flank helped open up the Gateshead defence once again. The ball was fed, from the left, to the feet of Walton. With McDonald in tow Walton stepped over the pass dragging the full back out of position and leaving Toft with time and space in the 18-yard area to finish. With Porter advancing from his line Toft stuck high, but directly at the keeper, and Porter made the easy save.

With 15 minutes left to play RCA took their foot off the gas as fatigue set in. Areas of the field that before the RCA midfield and defence had worked hard to close down began to be left open and the quality in particular of Gilles and Wake began to show.

Gateshead pulled a goal back in the 81st minute. Coghlan with the ball at his feet attempted to spray a pass out wide to Jones. The ball was sloppy and comfortably intercepted by Allan who ran at the exposed RCA defence. Reaching the edge of the area Allan shot straight at Hoggeth who was able to parry it away. The loose ball fell to Briggs whose strike squirmed under the feet of Hoggeth, as he attempted to make the second stop, and into the back of the net.

The third goal reinstated Gateshead belief and propelled them back into the game. As they put heavy pressure on the backline the RCA defence was forced into some last ditch challenges to keep their winning position intact. But, with five minutes left to play, Gilles stepped in from the left and arched an excellent effort in off the inside of the far post for the equaliser.

Gateshead could sense a winner and in the last minute of normal time it came. An unnecessary challenge gave Gateshead a freekick 25-yards from goal. Gilles stepped up and his spectacular attempt struck the bar with the RCA defence left watching. Allan reacted first and with no one around him he converted into the empty net.

Game over you would believe, but RCA found the time to fashion another two chances. Substitute Joe Fairish, who had come on minutes earlier for Duke was only stopped from bravely connecting with a diving header six yards from goal by the vital challenge of Danni Lay after Davies attempt had spun into the air. Then Logan stepped past three challengers with the ball at his feet and shot low and hard towards the near post only to be cruelly denied by a good save from Porter.

Gateshead advance to the Semi Final with a tie against either Spennymoor Town, Dunston UTS or Norton & Stockton Ancients to look forward to while RCA reflected on an opportunity missed in what was simply an epic encounter.

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Stokesley FC 1 Sunderland RCA 1

Saturday, 13 January 2011

STL Northern League Division 1

Another away day this time to last season's Second Divison champions Stokesley. Historically this is always a hard game and this match, played on a difficult surface and with a gale force wind blowing across the pitch proved to be harder than most. Hixon made a couple of tactical changes, bringing in Leon Carling to partner Carl Beasley at the heart of the defence and pushing James Oates into a more advanced central midfiled role. Stokesley started with an unfamiliar 4-5-1 formation.

A howling wind greeted both teams onto the pitch and it took quite a while for the teams to adjust to the conditions.
Stokesley looked to be playing long ball which was causing RCA's defence problems in the swirling wind. RCA were trying to play the ball on the ground but were finding it difficult on a sticky surface.

The first real chance fell to Stewart on the left for Stokesley but he fired his effort wide. Walton then picked the ball up inside the Stokesley half before raced clear of the defender, unfortunately his cross which beat Dean in Stokesley goal also evaded the head of Smith.

After 10 minutes a delightful one, two between Logan and Davies put the latter in the clear and his cross was met at the far post by Walton but he headed wde.

Stokesley responded with some good play and Hume and Close combined to set Morrison up put his shot was well saved by Hoggeth. A long ball from Poole found Morrison on the right and his cross seemed to hang on the wind for an eternity before Hoggeth claimed it with both Robson and Stewart bearing down on him.

RCA needed to up their game and were getting literally bogged down in midfield. Walton did manage to shake off his defender and a quality ball into the box found Davies unmarked at the back post but somehow Dean pulled off two point-blank saves to deny the winger.

Stokesley took the lead when Crager hit a hopeful cross field clearance out of defence, the ball evaded Talbot and found Morrison in acres of space and he cut inside before cleverly steering the ball over Hoggeth and into the empty net.

Carling was booked for a clumbsy challeng on Morrison and from the resulting free kick, Stewart forced a corner. RCA were then awarded freekick when Poole fouled Smith and although Stokesley seemed to have dealt with Beasley's initial kick the ball fell to Smith on the edge of the box and Dean made a scrambling save to his right.

The second half saw RCA utilising the wind and the right wing to great effect, a cross from Jones was punched away by Dean only as far as Logan but his low shot went wide. There was a sense of Deja Vu to this second half which was reminiscent of last year's 1-0 defeat at the same ground. Hopefully history wasn't repeating itself.

It was one way traffic with RCA turning the screw but failing to find that vital bit of quality that would unlock a resolute Stokesley defence.
RCA had changed up a gear and were forcing Stokesley back and only some last ditch defending kept them in the game.

A rare attack from Stokesley found Stewart free on the right and when Hoggeth palmed out his first attempt the ball rebounded back to Stewart who looked odds on to make it 2-0 but Hoggeth managed to put a hand on the ball and turn it round the post.

Oates was inches away from a cross from Walton and a shot from Logan found the side netting.

Stokesley were reduced to 10 men when an innocuous looking challenge on Jones by Morrison earned the Stokesley player a straight red card.

The game degenerated very quickly into a battle of attrition and Stokesley were guilty of a little indiscipline with cautions flying around for silly misdemeanours. RCA held their nerve and their discipline and when Coghlan released Logan on the right it looked like the centre forward having slipped had missed the opportunity to cross the ball but somehow he curled his foot round the ball and it flew over the keeper and into the top corner of the net.

Late in the game a careless challenge on Smith by Robson earned him a straight red card and Stokesley were forced to play the remainder of the match with nine men.

Even with this numerical advantage RCA could not find a second goal to claim all three points.

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Sunderland RCA 4 Jarrow Roofing BCA 1

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

STL Northern League Division 1

Jarrow Roofing were the visitors to Meadow Park for Sunderland RCA’s first home evening fixture of the new year. Looking to avenge the 1-0 defeat to Jarrow Roofing earlier in the season Sunderland RCA manager Neil Hixon made one change from the starting line-up that picked up a point away to Stokesley at the weekend. David Duke dropped to the bench to be replaced by Keith Graydon in the centre of midfield.

RCA looked bright early on taking the game to Jarrow Roofing. Building the attacks up from the back RCA looked to work the ball out to Joe Walton on the right flank. In a warning of things to come a threaded ball between Jamie Marshall and Daniel Kirkup allowed Walton to use his pace to get in behind the Jarrow Roofing defence. His first touch took Marshall out of the game but the ball into the box was defended well.

Walton was again the outlet minutes later and this time he made Jarrow Roofing pay. James Oates, operating in an advanced midfield position, slipped a perfectly weighted ball through the Jarrow Roofing defence. With a clever run, outside to in, Walton found himself bearing down on goal and he applied the finish, drilling the ball passed Gary Frater into the bottom corner.

RCA continued to expose Jarrow Roofing down the flanks with Walton now knowing he had the better of his man. In a clever interchange with Richie Logan Walton again found himself in a crossing position and, with time to look up, he drilled a low ball across the six-yard box with RCA players in good positions. The cross fell invitingly for Harrison Davies to convert but he somehow missed his kick and the ball ran in between his legs.

When in possession Jarrow Roofing endeavoured to provide an attacking threat especially with RCA only holding a slender lead. However, despite looking confident with the ball they rarely looked like troubling the central defensive partnership of Carl Beasley and Leon Carling. Jarrow Roofing’s major opening came just after the 20 minute mark when a RCA defensive header fell invitingly on the edge of the area. Michael Armstrong was able to get the shot away which beat Gary Hoggeth in the RCA goal but not the crossbar, rebounding back off the upright.

Walton again was the provider just after the half hour mark but his dangerous ball into the box was smuggled away by the Jarrow Roofing defence. Davies went to the opposite flank to take the corner and his inswinging ball was perfect for Beasley to rise at the far post and head goalwards. Beasley’s effort beat Frater and looked to have doubled RCA’s lead before the defender on the post hooked the ball back from behind him and away. RCA were convinced the ball had crossed the line, as were the supporters in line with the action. The dejected expression on the Jarrow Roofing players close to the incident suggested they too thought the effort had registered the only people unconvinced seemingly were the officials who allowed play to go on.

RCA continued to use the flanks to good effect, Davies beat Jarrow Roofing right back Arron Croft to cut into the 18-yard box but his cross was charged down for a corner. Graydon put the corner into the near post for Logan to get the flick. But, as the ball passed across the face of goal no one was able to get the decisive touch and after having much of the possession RCA went in at the break with a slender one goal lead.

Returning after the interval Jarrow Roofing looked to make an impact on proceedings attempting to attack from the off. They kept possession well in spells but rarely threatened the RCA goal and by the time Walton raced through on goal again it looked difficult to see a way back into the game for them. Walton’s second was an almost carven copy of his first. The ball, slid inside the full back allowed him to cut inside taking the ball in his stride and finish emphatically.

Five minute later Logan got the goal that his overall play had deserved. Logan had looked impressive all evening committing the Jarrow Roofing defence with pace, skill and power. After missing an easier chance moments earlier firing straight at the keeper from a Walton cross Logan headed RCA’s third of the night to continue his rich vein of form in front of goal.

Credit to Jarrow Roofing they continued to search for a way back into the match and when RCA substitute Chris Smith needlessly gave the ball away on the edge of his own box Jarrow Roofing sub Peter Watling was able to take advantage, finishing smartly passed Hoggeth.

RCA rounded off the night with something special from Logan. Shrugging of a challenge the forward cut in his the left, step passed a defender on the edge of the box and unleashed a powerful drive that flew into the roof of the net giving Frater no chance.

RCA comfortably saw out the final few minutes to record a deserved win that keeps them positioned safely around the middle of the table.

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Sunderland RCA 1 Shildon 2

Saturday, 22 January 2011

STL Northern League Division 1

Click here for a slideshow of photos from the match

Sunderland RCA played host to last season’s league runners up when Shildon came to Meadow Park. RCA manager Neil Hixon named an unchanged side from the eleven that earned a comfortable 4-1 victory over Jarrow Roofing BCA in midweek.

Shildon began the game positively and in the opening stages looked the better side. Sam Gavie, who’s two goals had been crucial in beating RCA in the league meeting between the two sides earlier in the season, was looking dangerous down the Shildon right. His pace and quick feet, giving him the ability to either go down the flank or cut inside, was causing the RCA defence problems.

RCA’s main first half threat was coming from set pieces. Keith Graydon’s delivery in a 15 minute spell where RCA earned a number of corners and free kicks was excellent but RCA’s attacking presence in the Shildon box was unable to find the crucial touch.

Gavie would be the catalyst in Shildon’s opening goal. The winger carved his way into the RCA 18-yard box and went down after a push from Harrison Davies. Some of the spectators seemed to think it was a soft penalty claim but contact was made and the referee didn’t hesitate in pointing to the spot. Craig Price step up to take the penalty and converted the ball confidently past Gary Hoggeth in the RCA goal.

As the second half began the balance of play was tight. A goal from RCA would give them the emphasis whereas the feeling was another Shildon goal may put the game to bed. Shildon created the first opening. Getting in behind Steve Jones Darren Hollingsworth found time to shoot. Hoggeth dived to cover his near side but the ball went out of play off the outside of the post.

Shildon’s second came just after the hour mark. Some resolute RCA defending sent the ball out of play for a corner. The outswinning delivery from the right hand side was deep and the RCA defence misjudged it. Jamie Harwood had hung unmarked at the far post and the ball landed at the perfect height for him to volley towards goal. The ball travelled through a crowd of players without anyone getting a significant touch before smuggling under Paul Talbot, who was guarding the post, and crossing the line.

The second goal did not dishearten RCA who, perhaps as a result, began to look a little more uninhibited in attack. A good spell of possession on the edge of the Shildon 18 yard box provided half chances for Smith, Logan and substitute John Toft but the Shildon defence was proving tough to break down.

RCA finally found an opening with around 20 minutes left on the clock. Joe Walton and Steve Jones linked up well down the RCA right and Walton committed the Shildon left back, cutting inside. Jones had carried on his run, into the space created by Walton, and found himself behind the Shildon backline as the ball spun over. Keith Finch rushed off his line to close the angle down but Jones intelligently lifted the bouncing ball over the Shildon keeper in an excellent finish that halved the deficit.

The majority of the attacking threat was coming from RCA now. After a set piece was hazardly defended by the Shildon back four Carl Beasley, who had been hoping for a delivery to the back post, collected the ball. He shifted the ball onto his right foot and delivered a low cross into the box. The ball failed to beat the first Shildon defender who looked to have handled with his first, controlling touch but the referee waved away the adamant RCA protests.

RCA were finding a lot of possession in front of the Shildon defence but a clear-cut chance still eluded them. Chris Smith, who had come on to replace Davies nearly levelled things late on. Passing the ball around the hard working Shildon midfield Graydon moved the ball out to Smith on the left. Keeping the ball close to his feet he stepped away from the first challenge and cut inside. Smith launched a curling effort towards the far post that forced an excellent save from Finch.

Despite the pressure RCA were unable to find the equaliser and the visitors held on for all three points.

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Dunston UTS 2 Sunderland RCA 3

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

STL Northern League Division 1

It promised to be a difficult away trip. Dunston UTS were on a high after reaching the last-16 of the FA Vase when they overcame Runcorn Town with a 3-1 victory away to the North West County’s First Division side. Sunderland RCA manager Neil Hixon made two changes from the side that lost to Shildon at the weekend. The unavailable Steve Jones was replaced by Scott Richards with James Oates dropped back to fill in at right back and Chris Smith replacing Harrison Davies on the left side of midfield.

RCA started quickly. Keith Graydon fed the ball into Richie Logan who had dropped deep off the defence. Logan turned and ran at the Dunston centre back pairing of Michael Robson and Ben Cattanach. Easing passed the first defender Logan looked up and weighted a perfect threaded pass through for the inside run of Joe Walton. Dunston keeper Liam Connell advanced from his line as Walton took one touch to set himself before striking a clean shot that beat Connell and clipped the top of the upright.

RCA were putting heavy pressure on the Dunston goal and the breakthrough looked inevitable. Controlling the ball on the right Richards was fouled by a clumsy tackle 30-yards from goal. Graydon casually went over to take the freekick and placed the ball perfectly onto the head of Leon Carling on the edge of the 6-yard box for the defender to score.

RCA were passing the ball around Dunston and looking comfortable in possession but after 15 minutes Dunston found a way back into the match. In their first attack of the game Dunston caught RCA with an incisive break away. Picking the ball up on the left Lee McAndrew ran Oates down the flank, outpacing the RCA defender before cutting back onto his right and floating a ball in between Carling and Carl Beasley. Andrew Bulford had pulled off his man and found himself in the space in between the two defenders and stooped to direct the ball into the corner of the net.

The goal gave Dunston more emphasis and they began to exert their presence on the game. Playing to their strengths, the pace on the flanks and the physicality of their play, Dunston began to utilise their wide men and make RCA defend balls into the box. It was from this tactic that Dunston nearly took the lead Bulford again getting his head on a ball into the box. His effort beat Gary Hoggeth in the RCA goal but some good positioning from Carl Beasley aloud him to clear the ball away from the line.

Just before half time Logan picked the ball up deep and turned to attack the Dunston defence. Working his way past the first challenge from Robson with a clever one-two with Martin Smith Logan found space between the centre half’s and with Robson now trailing Logan burst passed Cattanach and into the box. Bearing down on goal Loagn was about to pull the trigger when Cattanach ran across the back of him making contact. Logan went down but Referee Mr. Neil Sharp waved away RCA’s adamant claims.

After the interval Graydon really began to orchestrate play in the centre of the park. RCA had begun the second half in the same manner as they had started the first passing the ball well and putting pressure on the Dunston goal.

It would be Duntson who would take the lead though. McAndrew, again, broke away down the left after latching onto a long ball out of defence and with men up RCA were looking exposed. Taking Oates to the byline McAndrew cut back onto his right and crossed into the box. Beasley attempt to win the header leaving space in the area but misjudged the flight of the ball. The cross went over his head and hit off the back of Carling falling perfectly for Steven Pickering to fire home.

The feeling was perhaps RCA would struggle after conceding against this tough Dunston side, the same way as they did in the first half. RCA, however, looked strong after the goal though and continued playing in the same manner as before. The game was end to end for a five minute spell. Hoggeth was forced to make two excellent saves to stop Dunston increasing their lead and Logan’s running across the line was causing all sort of problems for the Dunston defence.

Walton, also, was becoming a menace down the right flank with the Dunston defence struggling to get near him. After outpacing Terry Galbraith Walton fed the ball inside to Martin Smith. With quick feet Smith stepped out of the way of the first challenge on the edge of the area and, with the shot inviting, elected to look square to Logan. With defenders quickly on him Logan was forced to check away from the shot and play the ball into the box for Richards. Richards’s eventual strike was blocked and the ball ran tamely into the hands of Connell.

Minutes later Walton earned a foul on the right after turning Galbraith. Graydon again stepped up to take it and the delivery, curling to the back post, was inviting for Beasley who aimed his header down to beat Connell.

Knowing Walton had the beating of the Dunston left back Graydon and Richards were picking him out with a ball to feet at every opportunity. Walton created the chance that should have put RCA into the lead. Beating Galbraith Walton pulled the ball back to Martin Smith who with his first touch squared it to Logan. Six-yards from goal Logan struck a tame shot, which was comfortably pushed away by Connell.

RCA got the winner with around with around ten minutes remaining. Awarded for an infraction about 20-yards from goal, Chris and Martin Smith worked a simple freekick rolling the ball to Graydon who fired the ball low into the back of the net.

With Dunston committing men forward RCA were finding gaps in behind. Richards threaded a through ball into the channel for Walton to chase. Getting there easily before the defender Walton drove on before squaring the ball to substitute Paul Taylor. Unmarked Taylor took it first time but his effort hit the top of the crossbar and went over before the forward realised he had been flagged for offside.

Dunston hit the bar late on but an equaliser would have been cruel on RCA who, after an eternity of stoppage time, welcomed all three points in lieu of a fixture against league leaders Consett at the weekend.

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South Shields 1 Sunderland RCA 2

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

League Cup Third Round

Sunderland RCA travelled to Filtrona Park in the third round of the League Cup for their second of three meetings with neighbours South Shields scheduled in recent weeks.

RCA manager Neil Hixon made a number of changes to the line-up that won at Dunston UTS last week. In came Steve Jones, John Toft and Harrison Davies for Carl Beasley, Keith Graydon and Martin Smith, who did not travel, while Michael Dalton was given his debut with Scott Richards dropping to the bench.

It was a bright opening to the game with both sides looking to attack from the off. The first sight of goal fell to RCA in form Richie Logan who dragged his shot wide from just outside of the box.

RCA opened the scoring after 12 minutes with the first flowing move of the game. A slick passing spell moving the ball out of defence was orchestrated by Paul Talbot, Chris Smith and Davies on the left. Davies fed the ball inside to Logan who turned to face the South Shields back four. With the South Shields defence backing off Logan chose to carry the ball. Beating the first man and gliding into the box Logan squared the ball to Dalton on the 18-yard line and the midfield placed his shot into the bottom corner.

A fully committed challenge between Joe Walton and South Shields centre half Niall McArdle in the early stages had resulted in the RCA wide man picking up an injury. Walton had tried to run the knock off initially but after a period of restricted movement he was replaced by Paul Taylor.

RCA showed more of the attacking impetus of the two teams in the opening half hour, Logan in particular looking threatening, but neither side fashioned a clear opportunity.

South Shields should have equaliser when James Oates misjudged a long ball over the top. Chris Winn outpaced the centre half getting in behind the defence, but RCA goalkeeper Gary Hoggeth was quick to react, darting quickly off his line he dived bravely at the feet of Winn to protect RCA’s lead.

South Shields got back on level terms just before the interval. A perfectly floated corner from the right hung invitingly for ex-RCA defender Daryll Hall to head the home side level at the break.

South Shields came out the second half looking for a second goal pressing RCA for long periods, but some stoic defending from the RCA back four denied South Shields any clear goalscoring opportunities. South Shields did manage to hit the upright twice from long range in this period. First Winn, picking the ball up deep, shifted it onto his right and unleashed a 25-yard strike that clipped the top of the crossbar. Then, substitute Dan Olusoga shifted the ball past Talbot and fired a powerful strike towards Hoggeth’s nearside that the RCA keeper was able to deal with, tipping the ball onto the post.

RCA had played on the counter for much of the second half, but in the final stages, knowing one goal could win it, they began to attack with a bit more adventure. Looking comfortable in possession, as they had done for most of the game, RCA switched the ball out to Taylor on the right. With Steve Jones on the overlap Taylor brought Smith into play. Smith picked his pass, finding Jones’s run behind the defence, and the full back latched onto the ball in the box. Cutting back onto his left Jones curled a ball to the back post that had South Shield goalkeeper Josh Carmichael beaten, but was cleared away by the covering defender off the line.

RCA’s winner came in an extended spell of pressure in the final 10 minutes. After controlling possession on the edge of the South Shields box Davies, popped up on the right, picking up the ball. With the ball bouncing and a defender in close attention Davies wrapped his foot around it and his audacious attempt arched over the scrambling Carmichael into the top corner.

It was a poor tie with many periods of scrappy play, but RCA eventually got the win to move into their second Quarter Final of the season, knocking out the holders in the process.

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Sunderland RCA 4 Billingham Town 3

Saturday, 5 February 2011

STL Northern League Division 1

Click here for a slideshow of photos from the match

Sunderland RCA manager Neil Hixon made a couple of changes from the side who knocked neighbours South Shields out of the League Cup in midweek for the visit of Billingham Town. Carl Beasley, Scott Richards, Keith Graydon and Martin Smith all returned with Richie Logan missing and Harrison Davies, Leon Carling and Michael Dalton all dropping to the bench.

The match began at an energetic pace with RCA attacking from the off. After a couple of wasted openings RCA took the lead through John Toft. With the ball played into him on the left, Toft, foraged down the flank, cut back inside to create an opening for himself and found a low finish that beat James Briggs in the Billingham Town goal.

Billingham Town hit back almost immediately. The ball into the box caused the RCA defence problems and James Middleton was able to finish to level the scores.

Despite the set back RCA were still on top and in a spell of extended pressure chances presented themselves to both Toft and Martin Smith but neither was able to take advantage. RCA would restore their lead after 17 minutes. A Graydon delivery hung invitingly between goalkeeper and defence and Beasley came in at the back post to head his fifth goal of the season.

The centre of the RCA midfield had control of the game. Richard was breaking up the Billingham Town attacks and feeding the ball into Chris Smith, who was stepping in from the left, and Graydon to orchestrate the tempo of play. Graydon would be rewarded with his first goal just before the half hour mark with a strike that gave Briggs no chance.

Six minutes later Graydon had his second. Picking the ball up deep Graydon exchanged a series off passes with Richards and Martin Smith in an interchange that split open the Billingham Town defence. Carrying on his run into the box Graydon stepped passed the last challenge and finished clinically into the bottom corner.

Feeling comfortable RCA took their foot off the accelerator and allowed Billingham Town periods of possession. Just before the interval Oates stepped out of defence and went through the back of the Billingham player in a pointless attempt to win the ball. It was an easy decision for Referee Mr. M. Coy who signalled for a freekick. As Oates ran to get back into position the ball was whipped into the area and in an attempt to atone for the mistake which gave away the freekick Oates stretched to intercept the low delivery but he could only turn the ball into the back of his own net.

RCA came out for the second half looking for another goal to put the game to bed. In a fluid passing movement RCA split the Billingham defence open. Martin Smith ran in behind, latching onto the perfectly weighted pass, and delivered a telling ball inbetween goalkeeper and defence. Joe Walton got in front off his marker at the back post and fired the ball goalwards but scrambling across the line Briggs made an excellent save.

RCA forced a series of outstanding saves from Briggs in the second half but Billingham Town were creating chances of their own and if they could get a third goal RCA would be put under pressure. Stephen Flockett scored Billingham’s third but the timing of the goal was significant. With only four minutes of regular time remaining Flockett found space in the RCA 18-yard area and his finish gave Gary Hoggeth in the RCA goal no chance.

Billingham Town attempted to pressurise in the remaining moments of the game but RCA held out comfortably to claim three points from a high scoring game that seemed to reflect events that was happening all over football that weekend.

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Sunderland RCA 0 Whitley Bay 2

Monday, 7 February 2011

STL Northern League Division 1

Sunderland RCA took on Whitley Bay in front of a season record attendance at Meadow Park. Injuries ruled out first team regulars for RCA with Paul Talbot, Richie Logan and Carl Beasley all missing for Neil Hixon’s men.

A cold wind blowing down slope engulfed Meadow Park for this evening kick off. RCA started brightly with some slick attacking play that was causing the Whitley Bay defence problems and just before the 10-minute mark Keith Graydon forced a good save from Kyle Hayes in the Whitley Bay goal.

A string of corners followed with RCA putting the Whitley Bay goal heavy pressure. Chances fell to Martin Smith and John Toft but neither were able to give RCA the lead.

Whitley Bay looked comfortable when in control of possession but playing up hill against the wind they fail to create anything like a clear goalscoring opportunity. Toft thought he had gave RCA the lead midway through the first half but his goalbound effort was saved tremendously by Hayes.

After the interval Whitley Bay began to look more threatening. Paul Chow, into the channel, delivered a dangerous ball across the RCA box which Craig McFarlane met at the back post. McFarlane’s header, back across goal looked destined for the bottom corner but, with great agility, RCA keeper Gary Hoggeth extended himself to make an excellent one handed save.

Whitley Bay took the lead moments later in a simple fashion. A RCA attack had broke down and collecting the ball in his hands Haynes elected to kick early down field. The long kick caught out the RCA back line and a moments hesitation from Hoggeth allow Chow in to head the opener in an almost copy of his first goal against RCA in the reverse encounter at Hillheads earlier in the season.

RCA continued to impose an attacking threat to Whitley Bay. The introduction of Paul Taylor gave the Whitley Bay defence something else to think about with Taylor providing persistence running across the line and into the channels. A long ball over the top gave RCA the chance to get back onto level terms. Taylor got in behind Whitley Bay’s centre back pairing and found himself in a footrace with the outcoming Haynes to reach the loose ball. Taylor got there first, rounding the Whitley Bay keeper who brought him down. Without hesitation the referee pointed to the spot but despite Haynes being the last man and denying a goalscoring opportunity no further punishment was handed out to the goalkeeper who, to add to RCA’s feeling of injustice, saved well from Martin Smith penalty.

Whitley Bay put the game to bed four minutes before time when Chow pounced on a low ball across to fire decisively into the top corner. RCA will have perhaps felt they deserved something from the game but clinical finishing was the difference between the two sides.

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South Shields 3 Sunderland RCA 2

Saturday, 12 February 2011

STL Northern League Division 1

Click here for a slideshow of photos from the match

In the third instalment of the recent triple Sunderland RCA once again travelled to Filtrona Park to play South Shields. RCA manager Neil Hixon was without Martin Smith for the trip but saw the return of Richie Logan, Carl Beasley and Paul Talbot to the starting line up after missing Monday evening’s game with Whitley Bay.

Intense rain the night previous had left the pitch at Filtrona Park heavy, with a passing game difficult to maintain on the muddy surface. RCA struggeled to adapt early on and were punished when South Shields took the lead through Tony Burnell.

South Shields were putting reliance on the long ball up to the frontmen which suited the conditions and led to their second goal. Hit from the back Darryl Hall played the ball long in the direction of Burnell. James Oates defended the first ball but Burnell was able to pick up the second. Shifting the ball onto his right Burnell shot low from distance and the effort skidded across the surface and slipped under the body of RCA goalkeeper Gary Hoggeth.

RCA slowly grew back into the game. During a period of pressure on the South Shields the ball was lifted into the path of Joe Walton who had found space in the 18-yard area. Walton hit the bouncing ball cleanly leaving Josh Carmichael a spectator but the effort hit off the inside of the post and fell fortunately for a South Shields player to clear.

Despite the difficultly of the surface RCA were able to work the ball around on the floor. Just before the interval a exchange of passes between Logan, Keith Graydon and Chris Smith gave the latter an opportunity to strike at goal but, from 12-yards out, Smith could only pull the shot wide.

RCA return for the second half looking for an early goal and after some last ditch defending by the South Shields rearguard Harrison Davies was able to pounce and convert only two minutes after the restart.

Davies was looking impressive in the second period committing South Shields defenders and driving into the box. He put RCA back on level terms with around 20 minutes left finishing confidently from inside the box after a misplaced pass.

The emphasis was very much with RCA now and Walton, Davies and Logan were all giving the South Shields back four problems. Logan picking the ball up deep was dragging Hall out of position and Hall, worried about the space was forced into some reckless challenges on the RCA forward. It would be two, in a 10-minute period, which would earn Hall his two yellow cards and resulting dismissal.

The returning Wayne Henderson’s first major involvement after being introduced as a sub was to make a sliding challenge attempting to win the ball. Henderson was adjudged by the officials of deliberately handling the ball despite tackling on the floor with his hands across his chest. The resulting freekick was floated into the box and met by Paul Stoneman who’s header came back down of the crossbar and was judged to have crossed the line by the referee’s assistant.

RCA began to throw men forward in search of the equaliser as a result leaving themselves exposed at the back and South Shields could have easily scored a fourth on the counter. RCA could not find the breakthrough and South Shields secured the league double over RCA.

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Sunderland RCA 1 Newcastle Benfield 4

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

STL Northern League Division 1

Sunderland RCA went down by 4-1 to Newcastle Benfield last night at Meadow Park in a game that was a lot closer than the result suggests. RCA manager Neil Hixon made two changes to the side that lost away at South Shields at the weekend with Michael Dalton replacing Chris Smith and Paul Taylor coming in for Richie Logan up front.

Newcastle Benfield started adventurously, attacking from the off, but the RCA defence was solid weathering the early storm. Getting the ball down RCA looked comfortable in possession and began giving Newcastle Benfield some defensive problems of their own.

RCA opened the scoring when a well-worked interchange of passes down the left flank opened up the Newcastle Benfield defence. Keith Graydon provided the pass for Harrison Davies who was able to get in behind and finish past Andrew Grainger in the Newcastle Benfield goal.

Moments later Taylor was put through, sprinting in behind the Newcastle Benfield defence. Taylor rounded the onrushing Grainger and, slightly off balance, turned the ball goalwards with his left foot. His shot was weak though and the covering Newcastle Benfield defender was able to clear the ball to safety.

Both sides continued to control possession well for the rest of the half with RCA creating the better of the chance before the referee blew for the interval.

Newcastle Benfield equalised immediately after the restart. An incisive attack presented Adam Rowntree with the opportunity and he made no mistake finishing in the bottom corner.

The goal was a set back for RCA but they continued to look threatening with the Newcastle Benfield defence struggling to deal with balls over the top as John Toft, Joe Walton and Taylor looking to profit. It would be Taylor who would have the best chance to resort RCA’s lead. Shrugging off the challenge of Phil Lumsden Taylor dashed in behind the Newcastle Benfield defence latching onto the long ball. With Grainger advancing Taylor delicately lifted the ball over the Newcastle Benfield goalkeeper. Destined for the back of the net the ball landed in the heavily muddy goalmouth and stuck as the surface took all of the power out of it giving the defence the chance to clear.

RCA had looked the more likely to score through the second period keeping Newcastle Benfield down to some excellent attempts from range including one from Paul Anthony that Gary Hoggeth in the RCA goal tipped onto the bar.

A couple of challenges in the middle of the park which should have been pulled up for a freekicks led to the penalty incident when Scott Fenwick went down under the challenge of the outcoming Hoggeth. The referee immediately pointed to the spot and Anthony stepped up to convert the penalty giving Newcastle Benfield the lead.

As RCA attacked looking for the equaliser Newcastle Benfield found holes in the defence. Rowntree added his second just before the end of the 90 and in stoppage time Simon Bell got Newcastle Benfield’s fourth securing all three points.

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Ryton 0 Sunderland RCA 4

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

STL Northern League Division 1

Ryton and their home ground Kingsley Park have been something of a bogey team for Sunderland RCA, who have been at the wrong end of the result on each of their visits over the course of the last four seasons. RCA had a chance to end this run as they visited a struggling Ryton side who are currently adrift at the bottom of the STL Northern League First Division.

RCA manager Neil Hixon came into the game with virtually a full squad to choose from; only Keith Graydon was missing from the team that lined up a week earlier against Newcastle Benfield. Returning to the starting line-up was Marc Ellison, in for the aforementioned Graydon, Scott Richards and, leading the attack, Martin Smith and Richie Logan.

RCA began the match quickly, passing the ball intensively in an attempt to break down the Ryton defence. It became clear quickly that Ryton’s pitch, uneven in patches, was not conducive to the passing game that dominates much of RCA’s attacking play.

RCA opened the scoring after 10 minutes with a direct piece of football. A long ball played out from the back was misjudged by the Ryton centre halves and Logan was able to latch onto the ball, clean through on goal. Taking two or three extra touches the ball seemed to have bobbled away from him, but at the last moment, as the keeper advanced, Logan stabbed the ball into the near corner.

RCA were looking to play more directly and two long balls switched out to the left created the best two chances of the first half for Harrison Davies. The first ball, played into his feet, allowed Davies to run at the Ryton defence. Beating two defenders, Davies elected to shoot from the edge of the area and his effort bent over the bar. Joe Walton provided Davies with his next chance playing an excellent ball over the top. Davies got in behind the Ryton defence and going one-on-one with the goalkeeper he took an extra touch that narrowed the angle and, when perhaps the better option was to go around the keeper, poked at his shot, which was easily saved then defended.

Both teams became guilty of giving the ball away as attacks were building which gave a scrappy feel to the first half of play. Returning after the interval RCA again continued to create chances, but failed to find the finishing touch. After an extended spell of pressure in the early stages of the second half RCA were camped inside Ryton’s 18-yard box trying to intricately work the ball. Chances fell to Logan, Martin Smith and Carl Beasley, but none could apply the finish in what eventually turned into a goalmouth scramble.

RCA finally doubled their lead when Logan took advantage of a goalkeeper's spill after Davies had cut inside and fired goalwards after 70 minutes. The goal, with the introductions of Paul Taylor, John Toft and Chris Smith who replaced the tiring but excellent Ellison, gave RCA a new emphasis. Minutes later Logan ran the centre back, getting to the byline and pulled the ball back in the direction of Toft’s late run. Toft did not get there, but the defender, who felt he had to deal with the situation, turned the ball into the back of his own net.

RCA’s fourth came from Davies who was now getting more space down the left to influence the game. With the ball at his feet Davies outpaced the Ryton defender and struck a low, hard shot that went beneath the keeper.

RCA continued to create chances. Logan should have completed his hat-trick when he waltzed through the Ryton defence, beating three players, to put himself one-on-one with the goal keeper. He feigned to shoot one too many times giving the defender a chance to get back and block his eventual shot.

With the final kick of the game Taylor should have got his first goal since returning to the club when he latched on to a clever ball played in between the centre halves, but he place his shot straight into the goalkeeper's arms.

RCA took all three points to banish any lingering doubts about Kingsley Park and avenge the early season home defeat to Ryton that remains their only win of the season in any competition. However, the night will be remembered for RCA’s wastefulness in front of goal that has continued to persist in recent weeks.

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Tow Law Town FC 3 Sunderland RCA FC 4

Saturday, 26 February 2011

STL Northern League Division I

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Sunderland RCA twice came from behind to take all three points in this seven goal thriller at the Ironworks Road ground. What a day weather wise with sunshine, rain, hail and snow all combining to make the playing surface difficult to say the least. It was a testament to the ability of both sets of players that they played some good football on a deteriorating pitch.

The game started in frantic fashion with both teams in attacking mode, the first effort came after only two minutes when a through ball from Hewitson found Thompson, but his first time effort sailed wide of the post. RCA responded with a quick counter and Smith was unlucky with an effort that had the keeper scrambling to make the save, a minute later and a cross from Davies found Logan free at the back post but his effort was easily saved.

Tow Law took the lead when a poor clearance was picked up by Hewitson who fired home from 20 yards out.

RCA were level within five minutes when Talbot curled a sweet left foot freekick into the path off Oates who met the the ball perfectly to head home from eight yards out.

As the conditions worsened attractive football was replaced by a midfield battle, and with both teams conceding possession easily it made for an entertaining spectacle for the nuetral.

The Lawyers restored their lead on the half hour when Thompson was left unmarked and unchallenged on the edge of the box and he was able to find the gap between Hoggeth's outstreched hand and the post.

The game continued in this topsy turvy fashion, first one team with the upper hand and then the other. It was no surprise therefore when RCA restored parity from a corner. Robinson, in the Tow Law goal came under pressure from Davies corner and his palmed clearance fell kindly for Beasley to head home from close range.

Tow Law started the second half brightly, but were unable to create anything up front and as RCA weathered the storm in more ways than one they started to dominate, pinning Tow Law back in their own half for long periods.

The introduction of Taylor up front, replacing Logan seemed to do the trick as he skipped past two defenders before crossing, but the ball was cut out by Robinson.

A run and cross by Walton found Smith in the box but his flying header went narrowly wide. The referee for some reason awarded a corner and from this RCA went 3-2 up went the ball fell kindly for Smith in the box and he blasted the ball through a crowd of players into the net.

Taylor's pace was causing Tow Law all sorts of problems and he was unlucky not to score himself when one on one with the keeper he managed to fire wide.

Minutes later and another burst of pace from Taylor took him into space on the left; this time his cross found Walton inside the box and he made no mistake from six yards.

Whether RCA took their foot of the pedal or Tow Law upped their game is uncertain, but the final 15 minutes of this game seemed to be camped in the RCA half with shots raining in from the Lawyer forwards, but not troubling Hoggeth until the final minute of the game when Thompson picked up the ball just outside the box and crashed the ball home past the despairing dive of Hoggeth.

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Sunderland RCA 2 Billingham Synthonia 0

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

STL Northern League Division 1

Sunderland RCA moved up to ninth in the league, the highest position for the club all season, after a 2-0 win over Billingham Synthonia at Meadow Park. Keith Graydon returned to the centre of the RCA midfield after missing the last two games and John Toft came in for the unavailable Richie Logan.

The opening stages of the game saw both sides create openings with neither taking advantage. Joe Walton and Harrison Davies were looking dangerous on the flanks for RCA. After around 15 minutes of play Davies received the ball on the left and, comfortably beat his marker, he drove into the box. Davies picked his cross, putting the ball in between defender and goalkeeper, and Walton slid in at the back post but agonisingly could not make contact.

RCA took the lead on 24 minutes. Walton received the ball on the edge of the box and within range he shot at goal. The strike, which was probably heading wide, took a heavy deflection off the unfortunate David Abel and evaded Josh Moody in the Synthonia goal.

RCA could have quickly made it two when Davies, with some good work down the left, got to the byline and cleverly pulled the ball back to Martin Smith who was standing unmarked around the penalty spot. Smith had time to pick his spot but his weak effort ended in the arms of Moody.

RCA doubled their lead just before the interval with the best piece of football of the match. Stepping past the first challenge Davies looked up and, seeing the run of Walton on the right, played a Hollywood ball across field that enable Walton to get in behind the Synthonia defence. Walton controlled the ball immaculately and finished into the bottom corner past Moody.

Synthonia began the second period looking for a way to get back into the match. A couple of half chances showed the nerves in the RCA defence then Colin Iley came closest for Synthonia with a freekick that whistled inches wide of Gary Hoggeth’s near post.

RCA continued threaten the Synthonia goal with Davies still causing problems down the left and Toft having a few weak attempts on goal. The introduction of Paul Taylor added some extra pace to the RCA attack and his strong running into the channel forced a mistake from the Synthonia defence. Taylor was able to pick his cross but Walton was unable to apply the finish.

Synthonia continued to pressure the RCA goal with Robbie Bettson and Glen Donaldson forcing a couple of good saves from Hoggeth. But they could not find the break through that would have put RCA under pressure in the closing stages of the game.

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West Allotment Celtic 2 Sunderland RCA 0

Saturday, 5 March 2011

STL Northern League Division 1

Click here for a slideshow of photos from the match - selection of 29 photos

Click here for a slideshow of photos from the match - 80 photos

Sunderland RCA travelled to Whitley Park for a challenging fixture against third bottom West Allotment Celtic. RCA manager Neil Hixon, who was without regulars Richie Logan and Keith Graydon, named a side with only one change from the eleven who overcame Billingham Synthonia with Scott Richards coming in for the aforementioned Graydon.

RCA were bright from the kick off and after two minutes of play created the game's first opening. A long ball from the back released Martin Smith who got in behind the West Allotment Celtic defence. With the keeper rushing out of his area Smith elected to lift the ball over the top of him. The effort, however, was meandering wide but John Toft was able to collect at the edge of the six-yard box and, cutting back inside the defender who was committed to the challenge, Toft had the goal at his mercy to pick his spot. The forward’s effort was poor, directed straight at the man on the line and the West Allotment Celtic defence was eventually able to clear.

RCA continued to pressure the West Allotment Celtic goal and looked likely to be the side to open the scoring. Good chances for Joe Walton and Smith were not taken and Toft again wasted one of RCA’s best openings when he took Walton’s low cross first time but failed to make the right connection.

West Allotment Celtic were only attacking occasionally on the break without much success. From Oates' challenge the referee awarded a very dubious freekick that put RCA on the back foot. The free kick was in a perfect position for the right footer to deliver a dangerous ball into the middle, but he elected to shoot and his goalward effort crashed off the underside of the bar leaving RCA goalkeeper Gary Hoggeth stranded and Craig Scott with a simple header to open the scoring.

West Allotment Celtic got their second again on the counter. The ball into the left channel was misjudged by the RCA defence and with players pushed up they were left exposed. Collecting the ball Paul Gardiner was able to cut inside and fired past Hoggeth into the bottom corner.

Harrison Davies had been causing West Allotment Celtic all sorts of problems during the first half. He had comfortably had the beating of his marker on a number of occasions, but failed to deliver a telling ball. In a moment of inspiration Davies got in behind the defence, drove into the area and delivered a elegant chip that deceived players on both sides. The West Allotment Celtic goalkeeper was forced to stand and watch as Davies effort floated over the top of him and dropped slowly towards the top corner clipping the crossbar and falling fortunately for a spectating West Allotment Celtic defender to clear.

In the second period RCA continued press eventually switching to an ambitiously unconventional 3-3-4 formation. The introduction of Paul Taylor for Toft gave RCA some extra pace in attack. Taylor was quickly into the game showing the nerves of the West Allotment Celtic backline and coming close to latching onto a couple of through balls. Taylor’s big chance came after the hour mark. Running onto a through ball Taylor rounded the advancing West Allotment Celtic goalkeeper but, in the moment needed to adjust his feet, allowed a West Allotment Celtic defender time to get back onto the line and clear his eventual shot.

While pushing men forward RCA were susceptible to attacks on the break, but West Allotment Celtic were unable to take advantage. RCA continued to create chance in the last ten minutes, but could not find the vital finish. A goalmouth scramble with around five minutes left presented a chance to Taylor whose effort was desperately stopped by the flailing arm of the West Allotment Celtic goalkeeper. The resulting ball bounced high up into the air across the untendered goalmouth and Walton, under challenge, met the ball for what should have been a simple finish, but his header went wide.

Some poor and incoherent officiating on the day affected the flow of the game and, in the case of one or two of the inconsistent bookings, made the game seem more undisciplined than perhaps it was. After taking the two goal lead West Allotment Celtic seemed happy to sit back and some extensive and cynical use of timewasting over both halves of play was not in the sprit of how the match should have been played.

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Consett 3 Sunderland RCA 0

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

STL Northern League Division 1

Belle Vue Park home of Consett was engulfed in unfavourable football conditions for the visit of Sunderland RCA. High winds and heavy rain provided a muddy but playable pitch on a cold evening in County Durham. In an unfamiliar RCA system Joe Walton partnered Paul Taylor up front with a three man central midfield of Wayne Henderson, Marc Ellison and Michael Dalton and the introduction of Leon Carling to the regular RCA back line which gave licence to full backs Steve Jones and Paul Talbot to get forward.

The opening stages of the match showed some promise for RCA with two high balls over the top of the Consett back four catching in the wind and causing problems. Paul Taylor was able to get in behind on both occasions latching onto the first ball, but being well marshalled by the Consett defence and unable to get a strike away. On the second ball over the top Taylor looked to have got away from his marker and went down in the box under contact, that you feel anywhere else on the pitch would have resulted in an infringement, only for the referee to wave away the RCA protests.

Consett looked comfortable in possession and were winning every first and second ball. The three man RCA midfield of Henderson, Ellison and Dalton seemed unable to exert any commanding influence on the game resulting in some good team moves by Consett with Gavin Barton and Mark Eccles able to test Gary Hoggeth in the RCA goal.

When RCA were in possession the centre of the park looked congested and with no outlets on the flanks and the midfield was struggling to keep hold of the ball. In comparison Consett were using the whole of the pitch to great effect and just after the half hour mark a confident interchange of passes allowed Eccles to open the scoring.

RCA were beginning to look nervous and were quickly two goals behind. A couple of failed challenges by the RCA back line saw the referee immediately point to the spot and Jamie Poole stepped up to convert the penalty.

With Consett having the majority of the play RCA stayed resolute to maintain the score until half time. Harrison Davies was introduced after the interval with the intention of providing more of an attacking threat to the Consett back line. With a bit more attacking impetus RCA pushed men forward and a good run by Jones down the right was met with a cynical foul and an RCA freekick. Ellison provided the delivery, which should have been a simple take for Consett goalkeeper Barry Poskett, but Poskett spilled his catch dropping the ball perfectly for Walton to score in the untended goal. However, Walton’s stabbed strike was stepped across by Taylor who inadvertently deflected the ball away from goal.

Consett’s third goal came in fortuitous circumstances. Poole found himself free down the left flank and with men over at the back post he played in a deep cross that looked to be too near Hoggeth. Hoggeth looked to have taken the correct position to make the catch, but the high ball got caught in the strong wind and the small change of direction left Hoggeth back peddling in vain as the cross found the top corner.

With Consett now comfortable RCA finally produced a passing move that opened up the Consett defence. Some quick one touch football found Davies on the edge of the box and he played a perfectly weighted ball into the overlapping run of Jones but, unmarked, the full back fired his shot over.

Consett played out the remainder of the game with the majority of possession and made secure of the victory without having to put RCA to the sword. RCA will be disappointed with their performance where they were second to a better side in every area of the park.

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Bedlington Terriers 3 Sunderland RCA 3

Saturday, 12 March 2011

STL Northern League Division 1

Click here for a slideshow of photos from the match

After the disappointment of the past couple of results, Sunderland RCA travelled to Welfare Park to play Bedlington Terriers a team who have been inconsistent recently after a promising start to the season. RCA welcomed back Richie Logan to the starting line up after the forward missed the last three games as RCA reverted to a more familiar formation with Keith Graydon playing off the aforementioned Logan.

RCA were quick out of the blocks wasting a good early opportunity in what is becoming something of a signature to the openings of games. Scott Richards was again forced off early with the recurrence of an injury being replaced by Leon Carling. This didn’t interrupt RCA’s pattern of play with both teams looking dangerous in front of goal with a noticeable threat coming from Harrison Davies down the RCA left and Alex Benjamin at the tip of the Bedlington attack.

Davies would be the architect of the game's opening goal. Receiving the ball at feet, Davies easily beat his man and driving to the byline he delivered a telling ball across the box that was converted at the back post by Joe Walton. RCA took the goal advantage into the interval where an injury to the assistant referee delayed the start of the second period of play.

Bedlington adjusted to this longer layoff quicker than RCA and looked threatening from the off and three minutes into the second half a bouncing ball right on the edge of the RCA 18-yard box was handled by Marc Ellison. Mark Convery stepped up to take the resulting free kick and his blasted effort went through the RCA wall and despite getting two hands to the ball, RCA keeper Gary Hoggeth could not keep it out.

Bedlington took the lead a minute later. Convery with the ball over the RCA backline which James Oates could not intercept, giving Benjamin a free run on goal and the prolific striker an easy finish.

RCA hit right back, Logan winning a freekick on the edge of the area after some good approach play. Graydon stepped up to take charge of the dead ball and his effort left Bedlington keeper Paul Newton with no chance.

Bedlington would regain the lead in unusual circumstances. Attacking down the left with former RCA man Richard Hodgson Bedlington were short of numbers in the box and Hodgson hung a ball to the back post. None of the Bedlington frontline were able to take advantage of the excellent ball into the box and it was left to RCA full back Paul Talbot to comfortably deal with. Talbot attempted to turn the ball out for a corner, but made a hash of his clearance and put the ball into the back of his own net.

RCA pressed for the equaliser and were handed the numerical advantage when Peter Snowdon was dismissed for a second yellow card. A moment of madness gave RCA a way back into the game in the final 10 minutes. A floated ball into the box that did not seem to be causing a great deal of danger was inexplicably handled by Chris Carr in the most dramatic diving fashion. The resulting penalty was coolly dispatched by Graydon to give him his second goal against his former club.

RCA could and perhaps should have found the winner late on. As the end-to-end game spiralled towards it conclusion RCA, on a counter attack, found themselves with a three on two situation. Graydon found the man over, Walton, who ran through on goal but his shot on his weaker left foot went agonisingly wide. In almost the last action of the game substitute Paul Taylor was presented with an opportunity four yards from goal, but his shot was straight at Newton who produced a quick reaction save.

The game ended 3-3 with both sides perhaps feeling they had the opportunity to take all three points.

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Bishop Auckland AFC 3 Sunderland RCA 2

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

STL Northern League Division 1

Sunderland RCA were visitors to the hugely impressive Heritage Park ground of Bishop Auckland AFC. The impressive surroundings were not matched by the unbelievably poor playing surface, which resembled a patchwork quilt made up mostly of sand and re-laid turf. With the mist rolling in it looked like a scene from the Dunkirk landing rather than a football pitch.

RCA made one change to Saturday's starting line up with Leon Carling keeping his place in the centre of midfiled after a very good performance when replacing the injured Scott Richards at Bedlington.

The match began with both teams eager to impress and pushing players forward trying to create chances, but both defences looked solid. The game changed dramatically in the fifth minute when Richard Logan received an early red card and RCA were reduced to ten men. Logan had already been involved in an altercation with Dixon which saw the Bishop’s defender punch and kick the RCA forward before he decided to take retribution and elbow the Bishops defender in the face.

The opening 20 minutes were fairly even and RCA looked to be getting on top. Walton was causing major problems on the right, in the 15 minute he set Ellison up on the edge of the box but his shot went over the bar.

On 18 minutes Gredziak had the home team's first effort when he stretched to a loose ball which Hoggeth saved, but took a blow to the face in doing so. Yellow card to Gredziak.

In the 23rd minute Bell and Lawson combined set up Salvin but his weak effort was easily saved by Hoggeth.

With RCA pressing forward and looking dangerous a good move was brought to a sudden end by a two footed challenge on Graydon by Brumwell who was only given a yellow card for what in most games would have been a straight red.

RCA missed a great chance to take the lead just after the half hour when Graydon turned to volley, but saw his effort fly narrowly past the upright. Bishops replied with a long throw which was knocked down to Atkinson who scuffed his shot well wide.

RCA, after some good play, took the lead in the 36th minute when Walton latched onto a cross from Jones to steer the ball home past the despairing dive of Jeffries.

Bishops hit back immediately when RCA failed to clear their lines and the ball fell to Brumwell who clipped it back over the top and found Lawson who had time to chest the ball down and stabbing home from ten yards.

RCA self-destructed, conceding another goal within three minutes when a hopeful cross from Gredziak found Bell in acres of space he easily slotted home past Hoggeth.

RCA equalised in injury time when the ever dangerous Walton cut in from the right before unleashing a powerful shot which gave Jeffries no chance.

The second half started slowly with both teams taking time to settle. However, Bishops took the lead again on 54 minutes when Atkinson intercepted an horrendous back pass before rounding the keeperand slotting home from an acute angle.

In the 58th minute Walton had a glorious chance to equalise and complete his hat trick when a superb pass from Graydon found him inside the box, but his curling shot went narrowly wide with Jeffries beaten. A minute later and Bell carried the ball out of defence before passing to Gredziak who shot just wide.

Another great chance fell to RCA in the 75th minute when Walton dispossessed Turnbull but blasted the ball wide.

RCA were once again on top of this match and a surging run by Walton was only stopped when he was up-ended by the lunging tackle of Darren Richardson with the ball two yards past him. Once again a red seemed likely but the very generous (for Bishops) Mr Clayton only showed yellow. From the resulting free-kick Graydon found Jones and Jeffries struggling to deal with the Jones cross could only push the ball away and Bishops were lucky to be able to clear.

With RCA understandably tiring Bishops created a number of late chances Chris Lawson, Strong and Turnbull all had decent chances.
RCA were down to nine men on 91 minutes when Ellison picked up a second yellow for a foul on Richardson and even with nine men it was Bishop who were hanging on at the end to take all three points.

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Sunderland RCA FC 1 Norton and Stockton Ancients FC 3

Saturday, 19 March 2011

STL Northern League Division 1

Click here for a slideshow of photos from the match

Sunderland RCA FC entertained Norton and Stockton Ancients FC at Meadow Park in today's Northern League Division 1 match. After a nondescript first half nobody could have forseen the dramatic events of the second half that gave the Ancients all three points.

The game started slowly with neither team being able to penetrate due to some good defending. Both Davies and Walton were unable to get telling crosses into the box when in good postions. In the eigth minute the first chance of the game fell to Logan after he worked an opening on the right but his final shot went wide of the target. After a succession of corners a header from Beasley was well saved by Provett. A minute later a shot from Walton was tipped round the post.

Norton responded with Owens forcing a good save Hoggeth and the rebound falling to Mulligan who fired wide when in a great position.

The half was marred in the closing stages when Harrison Davies went down with no-one near him - later confirmed as a broken ankle.

Norton Stockton started the second half in commanding fashion. In the 47th minute a ball in the box was handled by Beasley and it was left to Mulligan to open the scoring from the penalty spot.

In the 52nd minute the visitors went 2 -0 up when a long ball opened up the RCA defence and found Earl in acres of space and he fired home past the helpless Hoggeth.

In the 59th minute an altercation between Mulligan and Ellison saw the latter red-carded for the second time in two games, a minute later Norton and Stockton made it 3 - 0 when Earl scored.

RCA tried to get back into the game and a long range effort from Graydon went close with the keeper beaten. Norton and Stockton then seemed to lose their composure and in the 70th minute Mulligan was dismissed when he handled the ball on the line and Graydon stepped up to score from the spot.

Within five minutes Norton were down to nine men when Earl kicked Graydon and was dismissed. Sunderland RCA could not take avantage of the extra player. Despite constant pressure, the closest they came to scoring was when Taylor miskicked when in a good position and a free kick from Graydon sailed over the bar.

In the end Norton and Stockton deserved all three points for their superiority in the first 70 minutes of the match.

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Sunderland RCA FC 4 Stokesley SC 1

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Brooks Mileson League Cup Trophy

Sunderland RCA made four changes to the team comprehensively beaten at the weekend. John Toft replaced the injured Harrison Davies (out for rest of season with a double fracture of the ankle), Paul Taylor came in for Richard Logan, who was unavailable through work committments, and there was the return of Martin Smith and John Butler after long absences to replace the cup tied Keith Graydon and the departure of Paul Talbot. So it was a new look SRCA that took to the pitch on a perfect night for football.

Not for the first time this season RCA started strongly, pinning the opposition back in their half of the field. The difference this time was the bonus of an early goal scored directly from a free-kick on the left wing. Toft floated the ball into the box at the far post and Pearson inexplicably made no attempt to get to it.

Stokesley’s first chance came in the eighth minute when Turner threaded a ball into the path of Jacobs, but he fired his shot well wide of the target under pressure from Oates. Five minutes later a cross from Decosemo looked to be going out of play, but rebounded off the bar and luckily for RCA fell to Jones who was able to clear the danger.

RCA extended their lead in the 17th minute when Taylor outpaced the Stokesley defence before picking out Smith in the box. The ex-Sunderland star showed great composure taking one touch to control the ball before striking it past Pearson from 12 yards out. To their credit Stokesley continued to play some attractive football in the middle of the park, but could not find the telling ball in the final third.

In the 23rd minute a speculative shot from Wheatley hit Beasley on the head and deflected the ball over the bar for a corner. From this kick Turner rose above everyone but could only steer his header over the bar.

RCA had a great chance to increase their lead when a through ball from Ellison found Toft who in turn set Carling up inside the box, but with only the keeper to beat he dragged his shot wide.

A late flurry from Stokesley saw Turner shoot wide and Allinson head over when both would have been expected to do better.

Stokesley started the second half in much the same vein as they had finished the first and after two minutes should have reduced the arrears when Allinson was again unmarked in the box, but could only scuff his shot wide with only Hoggeth to beat. RCA then got into their stride and a cross from Walton found Toft free at the far post, but he was unable to control his shot and scooped it over the bar.

The pressure was increased by RCA and it was no surprise when Walton made it 3 - 0 when Taylor swept past a static Stokesley defence before crossing the ball to Walton who hammered the ball home from close range. Within minutes the game was put beyond Stokesley grasp when a long cross-field ball from Toft found Walton who produced a bit of magic on the right to beat his man before setting up Taylor who managed to force the ball into the net.

A spate of substitutions then took place and during this period a lovely ball from Hume found Decosemo inside the box and he was able to score unchallenged to make the score 4-1.

Allinson was again guilty of missing a great opportunity in the 85th minute; it was obviously not his night, as he fired wide when in a good position.

As the game petered out Dalton fired into the side netting.

Over the 90 minutes this was a solid RCA performance with some fine individual displays from Toft, Taylor and Walton which will give the management team a selection headache for Friday.

SRCA will play Spennymoor Town at home in the semi-final after they defeated Bedlington Terriers 2 - 0.

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West Auckland Town FC 4 Sunderland RCA FC 1

Friday, 25 March 2011

STL Northern League Division 1

Sunderland RCA took a bit of a battering at West Auckland on a dismal Friday night. With a number of forced changes Neil Hixon's men were outclassed by a far superior West Auckland team.

It had all started quite well for RCA when a cross from Walton went fractionally over Logan's head with the forward unmarked in the box.

West then took the lead on ten minutes when Nicholls played a one-two with Moffat which saw the winger in space behind the backline and he fired past Gary Hoggeth to make it 1 - 0.

They could have been two up within a minute when Banks' effort was parried wide by the keeper. Hoggeth was called upon five minutes later making a superb one-handed save to turn Moffat's shot over the bar.

RCA were level in the 20th minute when Walton beat the full back to cross into the box and the ball was headed into the far corner by Michael Dalton.

Nicholls came close to restoring that lead seeing an effort flash narrowly over the bar. RCA continued to hit on the break and should have taken the lead when Graydon was sent clear by Logan, but he shot high and wide from inside the box. Further West possession saw Banks denied by Hoggeth and then Mark Stephenson fired a free kick inches wide.

West came close to leading at the break when in the 44th minute a good spell of possession resulted in a shot from Brown which went wide of the target.

RCA’s usual failings were evident once again at the beginning of the second half when they failed to clear a corner and Maddison was on hand to scuff a shot in off the post. RCA responded with a header over the bar from Dalton after some good work between Walton and Graydon.

West started to dominate possession and when Moffat latched onto a through ball it looked all over a goal, but he fired just off target. Nicholls was twice denied by Hoggeth in the next five minutes as West looked to seal all three points.

In the 80th minute West made it 3-1 when Brown found Banks and he rifled a lifting ball over Hoggeth and into the roof of the net, from 25 yards.

RCA had the chance to pull one back 60 seconds later when Logan was brought down in the box. After a discussion between the two officials a penalty was awarded, but Graydons’s well struck spotkick was brilliantly saved by Bell.

West completed the wrought in the 85th minute when a ball from Banks to Lunn was inexplicably left by Carling and this allowed Lunn to go clear before squaring the ball to Moffat to control and tap in his 35th goal of the season.

In the dying seconds RCA had an opportunity to redeem themselves when Dalton broke into the box, but couldn’t quite find the finish he was looking for and the ball trickled wide of the target.

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Esh Winning FC 0 Sunderland RCA FC 1

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

STL Northern League Division 1

Sunderland RCA travelled to second bottom Esh Winning FC for this important STL Northern League fixture. A win for RCA would almost certainly confirm first division football next season while a win for Esh would give them the incentive to continue their fight against relegation.

RCA made a number of changes to the team. There was a recall for Adam McGuinness at left back, Scott Richards came back into the team after injury and partnered Keith Graydon in a new look midfield, while a debut appearance was given to recent signing Matthew Tymon.

From the start RCA pressed forward and in the third minute Walton was sent clear by Richards, but squandered a golden opportunity, shooting wide, when one-on-one with the keeper.

In the fifth minute, Esh were awarded a free kick on the edge of the box and Lindoe stepped up to shoot past the wall only to see the ball rebound off the post and go wide.

RCA continued to put pressure on the Esh defence and Beasley was unlucky with a header over from Graydon’s corner. Esh weathered the storm and came more into the game as the half progressed and a shot from Hanson had Hoggeth scambling to save to his right.

On 30 minutes a cross from Gibson found Hanson and his snap shot was cleared off the line by Jones.

In a final two minutes of the half Toft pulled up with a knee problem and was replaced by Shields and Ward came on for the injured Aiston.

RCA began the second half on top and remained so for most of the half. A Logan cross on 50 minutes found Tymon who controlled the ball before firing against the inside of the post and Walton could only steer the rebound wide of the target.

Although they had good possession and plenty of pressure RCA got no reward for the endeavours. A cross from Jones was headed down by Shields and, with Walton bearing down on the ball Wilson was able to flick the ball away to safety. A cross shot from Graydon went inches wide and a deflected shot from Shields was brilliantly tipped over the bar by Spence.

A freak goal sealed the points for RCA in the 80th minute when Spence was in the process of clearing the ball he blasted it at the back of Taylor and the ball ricocheted into the empty net.

A minute later RCA had the ball in the net again, but Taylor was adjudged to be offside.

Esh tried in vain for an equaliser, but nothing was forthcoming and the game ended Esh Winning 0 RCA 1.

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Sunderland RCA FC 0 Spennymoor Town FC 2

Saturday, 02 April 2011

STL Northern League Division 1

Meadow Park trebled its usual number of photographers at the Spennymoor match on Saturday. The Sunderland Echo were there, so watch out for a team and perhaps some action shots in the paper this week.

We also welcomed guest photographer Ron Aitchison who has kindly given us a link to the photos he took. Click here to see a slide show of Ron's photos.

Finally, please click here to see a slide show of photos of the match from the usual photographer.

RCA welcomed League leaders Spennymoor Town to Meadow Park and although giving a good account of themselves they fell victim to two strikes either side of half time. Once again, through injury and suspensions there were changes to the team, manager Hixon opting for a 4-5-1 formation brought in Butler, Graydon, Carling and Shields as both Logan and Toft were sidelined through injury. To make matters worse Moors were able to recall keeper Turns and striker Johnston for the game.

RCA, facing the wind and the slope, started brightly and were on top in the early exchanges forcing, Spennymoor to defend deep. A snap shot from home debutant Tymon flashed narrowly past Turns' goal in the eighth minute and the reaction from Moors was almost instant with Capper cutting in from the left to unleash a shot which went wide.

Turns was then called upon to save low down after a shot from Walton was deflected goalwards by Ryan. RCA were keeping possession well and should have opened th escoring in the 14th minute when Tymon out jumped the Moors defence to flick a header into the path of Richards who found Walton with a sublime pass which sliced apart the Moors defence, but Walton's curling shot went narrowly wide with Turns beaten.

RCA looked in control at this point and a good move between Richards and Tymon created a chance for Carling in front of goal, but he was guilty of slashing at the shot and it flew wide.

The game threatened to boil over as a number of challenges started to fly in with firstly Oates and Francis clashing and then Francis seemed to take retribution on RCA captain Beasley after a number of challenges had been allowed to go unchecked.

Spennymoor took the lead when Francis crossed in from the right, straight across the face of goal and the ball fell between the defender and Hoggeth and Laws nipped in between the two to blast home from close range.

Francis took the game by the scruff of the neck and his passing and control were mesmerising, he broke from midfield into the box and laid the ball into the path of Johnston but the striker scuffed his shot wide of the post from 12 yards.

RCA came back a Moors before half time and Matty Tymon, almost levelled when he fired wide after good work down the right by Michael Dalton. then Leon Carling headed wide from a corner by Keith Graydon.

At the start of the second half RCA were penned back as Moors went looking for the goal that would kill the game. Cogdon out on the left twice went close and Johnston had a great chance, but fired wide.
When Cogdon went down under a challenge from Hoggeth the penalty appeals were rightly turned down by the referee. at the other end Tymon fired straight at Turns when in a great position and almost immediiately Beasley did the same. The game was opening up and both teams were playing some excellent football.

The second goal for Moors came with another defence splitting pass from Francis which found Johnson on the edge of the box and he deftly flicked the ball over Hoggeth for a truely stunning goal. This took the wind out of the sails of RCA and Moors started to take control, producing some great passing football.

The final minutes saw few chances for either side.

As RCA pushed forward the Moors defenders had to dig in to preserve a clean sheet.

All in all an entertaining match and hopefully the same will be repeated as the two teams will battle it out again in the League Cup semi-final on Monday, 11 April.

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Penrith AFC 1 Sunderland RCA FC 0

Saturday, 9 April 201

STL Northern League Division 1

Click here for a slideshow of photos from the match

Sunderland RCA made the long trip to Penrith’s new Frenchfield stadium with a much depleted team. Only the bare eleven travelled with injuries and suspensions accounting for six players being unavailable and the late withdrawal of two players due to work commitments.

The players who did travel proved that, even in adversity, RCA are capable of making an impression in this league. The game itself was a bit of a non event with Penrith scoring in the 21st minute through Otway who ghosted in, unmarked, at the far post to steer the ball past Hoggeth.

Penrith looked dangerous with Douglas causing most of the problems with some foraging runs.

RCA were not without their chances and shots from Walton and Tymon tested Holand in the Penrith goal, while Hoggeth was on hand to palm away a shot from Wilson.

The best chance of the half fell to Tymon who created a great opening when sent clear by Richards, but the lone striker was guilty of looking for support when a shot at goal would have been a better option.

Penrith made it clear early in the second half that they would be happy to defend deep and hit RCA on the break. This they did to great effect and with the outlet of Douglas on the left and Jackson on the right they made life difficult for RCA’s overstretched defence.

Douglas should have made it 2-0 when he jinxed past three defenders before firing in a weak effort which Hoggeth dealt with easily.

RCA were harshly treated two minutes later when Graydon seemed to get the better of Gray and as he set himself to shoot at goal appeared to be brought down on the edge of the box, but the referee waved play on.

Within five minutes the complexion of the game changed when RCA were awarded a penalty, when after a goalmouth scramble the ball was blasted towards goal by Walton, Gray the Penrith centre back flung himself at the ball which clearly hit him on the face, but the referee indicated that it had struck his hand. In the ensuing melee between the officials and Penrith players, the home club physio was very aggressive towards Graydon. Justice seemed to be done when Tymon hit a weak penalty at Holland.

The game ended giving Penrith a much needed and probably just deserved three points. With Jarrow Roofing only managing to draw this makes RCA mathematically safe from relegation and plans have already begun for next season.

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Sunderland RCA FC 1 Spennymoor Town 3

Monday, 11 April 2011

Brooks Mileson Memorial Cup Semi Final

Whoever said that football is a cruel game, was obviously refering to the irony, that no matter how hard a team try and no matter how well they play when decisions go against you they usually end up costing you games. Such cruelty was dealt out in double quantities in this Brooks Mileson League cup tie. Spennymoor rode their luck in the second half of this game and when it mattered produced the real moments of quality in the final stages.

RCA were forced once again to make significant changes to the team due to a mixture of injuries, suspensions and cup tied players. Spennymoor also made six changes to the team who won at Bedlington at the weekend, giving a debut to young keeper Samuel Grievson.

In an open first 15 minutes both teams looked to attack with Johnston for Moors going the closest with a dipping shot from 20 yards out which cleared the bar by inches. RCA responded and both Walton and Taylor could have done better with chances set up by Richards, but both fired wide of the target.

Spennymoor took the lead after 13 minutes when Richardson collected a pass from Johnston before turning quickly inside the area to fire past Hoggeth.

After this both sides were guilty of missing chances. Hubbard set up Peacock on 32 minutes, but the forward's shot was well off target and he looked to pull up sharply afterwards and was replaced.

Taylor had another good chance to equalize, but could not find the finish he was looking for and his shot went tamely over the bar.

The game continued to move from end to end with neither team testing the keepers.

The start of the second half saw Taylor burst through the Moors defence and with only the keeper to beat he got to much on the ball and scooped it over the bar.

Moors were finding it hard as RCA turned the screw with some great possession which pinned them back for long periods.

RCA equalised when a long ball from McGuinness was misjudged by Grievson and Walton steered the ball goalwards only to see Ryan clear off the line; however the clearance struck Walton on the knee and went into the empty net.

Substitute Craig Ruddy almost regained Moors lead when his 20 yard shot crashed off the woodwork, but the RCA defence dealt with follow up and cleared their lines.

RCA were creating chance after chance and had a hatful of corners, but could not seem to get past the resilient Moors' defending.

RCA were denied a penalty in the 85th minute when Dalton was fouled in the process of shooting; the referee waved away the protests. Within a minute Moors ended the home side’s hopes of a cup shock when Dalton again appeared to be fouled on the edge of the box and with the RCA player down Moors elected to play on and Richardson was able to ride the tackle of Beasley to unleash a brilliant strike into the top corner from 25 yards.

RCA were guilty of another glaring miss when Richards and Walton combined, but the final shot went over the top.

Moors booked their place in the final with a third in stoppage time when Ruddy crossed for Hubbard to score with a diving header in the 94th minute.

Good luck to Jason Ainsley, the committee and the Spennymoor team in the Final. For SRCA there is always next year.

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Sunderland RCA FC 3 Ashington FC 2

Saturday, 16 April 2011

STL Northern League Division 1

Click here for a slideshow of photos from the match

With both teams assured of first division football next season and Ashington preparing for a cup semi final against Newcastle United Reserves, this had all the ingredients of being just another end of season, get it out of the road, match. In the first 45 minutes that is exactly how it seemed as Ashington looked a poor imitation of a footballing team and RCA lacked a quality finish. The one bright spark of the first half was Matty Tymon's first goal for the club. The second half served up four goals in an end-to-end game that RCA should have had sewn up after 50 minutes.

RCA took control of this game right from the off and only some poor finishing kept Ashington in the hunt. In the fifth minute a great cross from Shields evaded everyone to land at the feet of Walton whose shot beat Dryden, but was cleared off the line by Lough.

A good spell of play by Ashington saw Bell feed the ball to Godsmark who mishit his shot and Hoggeth saved easily.

In the 11th minute RCA took the lead when a great pass from Graydon found Tymon who took it in his stride before clipping the ball low past Dryden.

RCA should have doubled their lead two minutes later when Graydon shot from 20 yards out and the ball dipped just over the bar.

RCA were rampant now and Graydon was puuling all the strings from midfield. Another of his passes found Tymon again and although the striker's shot beat the keeper the ball was once again cleared off the line.

As the game neared the end of the half it looked to be one of those days when RCA would dominate and get nothing from it and Ashington looked woefully poor in the face of the RCA onslaught. In the final minutes of the half both Jones and Graydon were guilty of not testing the keeper when in good positions.

The first real opportunity of the second half for either team fell, against the run of play, to Godsmark for Ashington, but he fired high over the bar. Graydon, who was finding acres of space in midfield started to dominate and was really unlucky with a curling shot which had Dryden beaten, but flashed inches wide of the upright. A minute later and the same player forced a great save from Dryden who was pleased to see his parry cleared by Lough.

A promising move by Ashington saw Scott cross to the unmarked Bell, but Hoggeth easily saved the forward's header.

RCA went 2-0 up when Richards released Walton on the right and his curling cross was headed home by Tymon. The game then seemed to take off with Ashington playing some of the best football of the match and, for the first time, causing problems to the RCA defence. In the 58th minute a great passing move involving Scott Godmark and Bell saw the latter slot the ball home from eight yards out. RCA looked to be rattled by this and it was not long before the score was 2 -2 when a long ball out of defence found Godmark who passed to Bell on the right wing and his cross was met by Lough two yards out and he made no mistake from there.

Ashington looked to have gained the initiative and were pressing forward for the winner, but both Beasley and Oates were in no mood to concede further gaols.

RCA took all three points when Jones’ long ball out of defence was flicked on by Tymon into the path of Graydon who fired into the net, the ball taking a slight deflection on the way.

RCA played some good football at times in this match and thoroughly deserved the points, but they must also realise that they need to cut out the sloppiness in defence.

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Sunderland RCA FC 3 Stokesley FC 2

Saturday, 23 April 2011

STL Nothern League Division 1

Click here for a slideshow of photos from the match

The final match of the season for Sunderland RCA FC saw them paired with Stokesley FC, who were also promoted last year. Both teams can be proud that they have retained first division status for next season.

RCA started the game without Joe Walton who pulled a hamstring in the warm up and his place in the team was taken by another youngster Liam Dunn.

RCA took advantage of the slope in the first half and could have been 3 - 0 up inside the first 15 minutes as Carling fired wide in the first minute, a Tymon layoff was blocked by Close before Graydon had a shot saved by Dean.

It was one way traffic as a shot from Carling was saved by Dean and the rebound was fired over the bar by Richards. In the 18th minute a cross from Shields found Tymon free at the back post, but he powered his header into the side netting. Two minutes later and Tymon turned his defender, but as he started to head towards the box he was fouled by Close who, harshly in my opinion, was shown a straight red card. The game seemed to settle down and Stokesley had their first attempt at goal in the 29th minute, when Turner fired over the bar.

Dunn was guillty of the miss of the half when a cross from Jones found him unmarked four yards out, but he mishit the shot and it went wide of the far post with both Tymon and Graydon bearing down on goal behind Dunn.

Stokesley immediately took advantage of this and a long ball from Dean found Wells 25 yards out from goal and he needed no second chance, blasting the ball first time past the helpless Hoggeth. Totally against the run of play stokesley found themselves in front.

The second half opened in emphatic style with a long ball from Jones looking to be easily collected by Dean, but he spilled the ball into the path of Tymon who proceeded to fire wide from eight yards out.

In the 49th minute RCA were awarded a penalty when Graydon was fouled in the box and Beasley converted past Dean.

A cross from Stewart found Decosemo who shot wide. Tymon at the other end had three chances in quick sucession, all fired straight at Dean. A cross from Graydon was met at the far post by McGuinness and his header back into the path of Beasley was tapped into the net from two yards out to give RCA the lead. Stokesley struck back with a goal from substitute Yalcin when he converted a Stewart shot.

Both teams had chances to settle the match, but it was left to Shields to come up with the goods in the 87th minute when a long crossfield ball from Dunn found him inside the box and he cleverly chipped the ball past Dean.

In the end it was a well deserved if hard fought three points. 51 points in our first season back in this division is more than anyone at the club could have hoped for.

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Season statistics

Complete statistics for the season 2010-11.

You may need to refresh your browser - F5 or Ctrl-F5 to get the latest statistics sheets. The footer date of each report should be 27 April 2011.

Squad pen pictures

Dave Anderson

Dave is now virtually fully recovered from his cruciate ligament injury and operation and is pushing to regain his central defensive position.

Carl Beasley

A versatile and very experienced Northern League defender, Carl has joined us from his home town club, Spennymoor, where he was club captain. A spell at Tow Law followed his first seasons at Spennymoor.

John Butler

JB has signed from Shildon and is not known as "The Machine" for nothing. He runs forever and can play in a variety of positions. Equally at home at full back, midfield or on the wing he is a great asset to the squad.

Leon Carling

Signed from Norton and Stockton, Leon has a decent pedigree in the Northern league and is a strong centre half who reads the game well.

Michael Dalton

A recent signing from Marske United, Michael scored on his Debut against South Shields. Michael is a strong, powerful midfielder who likes to tackle but can also pass the ball to great effect.

Harrison Davies

Re-signed after a spell at Guisborough Town. Another good winger who can deliver telling crosses and is a good passer of the ball. When his confidence is high he is a great player to watch.

Liam Dunn

A versatile defender/midfielder who has progressed from Sunderland RCA Under 18 side,'Dunny' has played for the Durham County Youth
side and has a real future ahead of him.

Marc Ellison

Released from Hartlepool United in December 2009, Marc then played for Swedish Club Ope IF. He is a fast, powerful, combative and skillful midfield player.

Joe Fairish

Signed from Northallerton Town, having previously played for Bishop Auckland, Joe loves to tackle (sometimes not very well) he can also pass a ball and has great vision. Might have to wait to see the best of Joe as he has ruptured ankle ligaments.

Keith Graydon

Re- signed from Bedlington Terriers. Keith is a box-to-box midfielder who possesses a wonderful array of passes. Great vision and excellence in dead ball situations are hallmarks of his play.

Wayne Henderson

Wayne moved effortlessly into his 11th season with the club and has proved over the years that he is quality player. He can play in any defensive position and is a good centre forward capable of scoring goals.

Gary Hoggeth

Gary's back! RCA Player of the Year and Players' Player in 2009-10 and previously with Jarrow Roofing, Gary is highly rated in Northern League circles, a top class keeper who plays with a smile on his face. A good shot stopper and excellent distribution, he has the ability to turn defence into attack.

Matty Hyson

Much travelled ex pro who can play as a centre half or up front. Matty is a solid performer who always gives 100% and wins balls in the air for fun.

Steve Jones

Steve made the right back spot his own last season and was one of the first names to re-sign for this season. Excellent defender who relishes the challenges of the first division.

Ritchie Logan

A centre forward who has played for Darlington FC, Ritichie is a strong, mobile attacker with a good goal-scoring record.

Adam McGuinness

Adam has re-signed to provide cover for the squad on the left hand side.

Mark McLeod

Mark is a quality young midfielder who was with Darlington. He is a great passer of the ball. Last season he made valuable contributions to the promotion campaign, establishing himself in the first team squad.

Marc Moon

Podge is another player getting a taste of Northern League football having developed from our Youth set up. Versatile at the
back and midfield, he has also played for Durham County U18s.

James Oates

One of the best defenders in the first division when he played for South Shields last season. He has the ability to read the game and makes it look so easy. Always looks comfortable on the ball.

Luke Olabode

A player who is comfortable at the back or up front, Luke spent a couple of years with Darlington FC Academy. A former member of
Sunderland RCA youth side, he has represented both the DFA County U18s and DFA County School sides.

Lee Owens

Lee has returned to his home town and to RCA, where in the 07/08 and 08/09 seasons he made a total of 39 appearances, scoring 13 goals. Able to play on the right or left, Lee combines the three key attributes of a winger: pace, skill and awareness.

Scott Richards

Scott is a very experienced central midfielder who combines skill, drive and determination with a desire to win. He is strong and courageous in the tackle and can pass the ball effectively.

Gary Shields

Gary's back after a short return to Chester-le-Street at the beginnjing of the season A Sunderland East End lad who has a wealth of Northern League experience, he scores his fair share of goals and is a great, committed team player. A bit of a joker off the field has been known to upset a few opponents with his banter.

Martin Smith

Martin's back to his home town and playing in red and white. The vision, awareness, technical ability and eye for goal that were his hallmarks are still there. For RCA fans and any neutral it's great to see him on field.

Paul Taylor

Re-signed from Easington CW, Paul possesses exhilarating pace which frightens defenders. He also has a phenomenal goal scoring record at all levels.

John Toft

John is back playing after a serious knee injury which kept him sidelined for 12 months. It is great to see him back. Maybe not see the best of him till next season.

Matty Tymon

Matty is a strong centre forward who has recently signed from West Auckland.

Joe Walton

Signed from neighbours Ryhope Colliery Welfare, Joe is a 19 year old with good pace. He is a right-sided midfielder with technical ability and great potential.

Management Team:

Neil Hixon (Manager)

Neil has been around the Northern League for more years than he cares to remember and has brought all of that experience to Sunderland RCA. The last three seasons have seen a distinct improvement in the fortunes of the club, culminating in promotion and Neil has been central to that transformation. He sets high standards and is ably assisted by his backroom staff.

Glen McCartney (Assistant Manager)

Glen was appointed Assistant Manager in the 2008/09 season. He is known for his dependability, passing and quick thinking. He won't admit this, but his playing days are getting fewer, but his motivational skills and dedication are unquestionable, we are lucky to have him on the backroom staff.

George Herd (Head Coach)

Nothing can be written about George that has not already been said. As a coach he is second to none at this level, possibly at any level. He has the respect of everyone at the club and his enthusiasm is infectious. He is at an age when most people would be looking to put their feet up, but not George. He continues to coach at a high tempo and will not accept second best from anyone. A legend in his playing days at Sunderland, he is now a Super Legend as a coach at Sunderland RCA FC.

Ian Smith (Coach)

Sunderland born Ian has joined us from Redby CA, where he was head coach. He's looking to advance his coaching career with RCA as he studies for his UEFA B coaching qualification.